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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, August 3, 2012

Date published:
August 03, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Pendleton: Meares has the advantage

    Pendleton proved her strength ahead of this summer's Olympics
    Article published:
    July 30, 2012, 12:29 BST
    Cycling News

    Old rivals set to lock horns again on the track

    The track cycling at the 2012 London Olympics is only three days away now, and British fans will be looking to the home nation's big names such as Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton to secure gold, which has proved to be something of an elusive colour over the opening weekend of the Games.

    Mark Cavendish's comprehensive defeat in the men's road race on Saturday, for which he was the overwhelming pre-race favourite, came as a surprise to many. In yesterday's women's race Elizabeth Armitstead exceeded expectations by securing silver, but after the highs of the British dominance in the Tour de France there has been a definite sense of disappointment across the country over the last couple of days.

    Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins could change all that on Wednesday when he launches his bid for gold in the men's time trial, but after unprecendented track success in Beijing four years ago, many are pinning their hopes on the nation's track stars to push Britain up the medal standings. Yet defending women's individual sprint champion Pendleton has warned that her old rival Anna Meares is probably the one to beat, despite Pendleton beating the Australian in the Beijing final and in the semi final of the Track World Championships in Melbourne last April.

    "She [Meares] probably has the advantage going in, because her performances on the whole over the last 12 months have been more solid than mine," Pendleton told The Independent.

    "I had that one occasion at the Worlds and some of it was down to the discretion of the commissaires [Meares was disqualified following a rule infringement - ed.], so it wasn't purely based...

  • Baugé "ready for war" on the track at 2012 Olympics

    Grégory Baugé (France) celebrates after besting Jason Kenny for the gold
    Article published:
    July 30, 2012, 15:39 BST
    Cycling News

    Frenchman in bullish mood ahead of double gold bid

    France's three-time world individual sprint champion Grégory Baugé is ready to do anything it takes to win when track cycling gets underway later this week at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. On the eve of the Games the 27-year-old from Maisons-Laffitte used his Twitter account to write that he is "ready for war" in English and he maintained that aggression when he spoke to French journalists at a press conference in London on Monday morning.

    "That was to signify that I am mentally prepared," he said, according to L'Equipe. "This is not a playground and I'm not here for fun. For me it is nothing but a world championship on a larger scale."

    Baugé defeated Britain's representative in the individual sprint, Jason Kenny, when the pair met in the final of the Track World Championships in Melbourne last April. Kenny's form there has seen him get the nod for the sole Team GB spot in that event over Sir Chris Hoy, who won Olympic gold in 2008.

    Baugé stated that he was disappointed not to be racing individually against Hoy, who will instead compete in the keirin in London, though the two men will line up against each other in the team sprint. Baugé was part of the French trio who finished second to Hoy, Kenny and Jamie Staff in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and he revealed that revenge is definitely on his mind. 2012 started very controversially for the Frenchman when he was stripped of his 2011 individual sprint world championship title and France were stripped of their team title for whereabouts violations. He is hoping that Olympic gold medals can ensure it's a year to remember for the right reasons.

    "I'm here for two gold medals," Baugé said. "It's...

  • Houvenaghel "determined" for team pursuit spot

    Wendy Houvenaghel in the pursuit
    Article published:
    July 31, 2012, 0:25 BST
    Cycling News

    Great Britain line-up still to be decided

    Wendy Houvenaghel missed out when Great Britain won gold in the women’s team pursuit at the UCI Track World Championships in Melbourne earlier this year which has only added to her determination to make the squad of three at the London Olympic Games.

    Great Britain - Danielle King, Joanna Rowsell, and Laura Trott - again set a new world mark in the 12-lap event of 13:15.720, bettering their time from qualifying as Australia was forced to settle for silver (3:16.943) with a new PB in April. Despite her absence from the team event, Houvenaghel competed in the individual pursuit, no longer an Olympic event, where she won silver.

    The Olympic line-up for Great Britain is yet to be settled however Houvenaghel believes the world mark could receive a further shake up later this week when the event gets underway.

    "It's a relatively new event and we will be looking to raise the barrier as much as possible," the Northern Irishwoman said.

    "We've been doing very well in training. We're fully prepared and ready to compete."

    Houvenaghel, now 37, was part of the World Championship-winning team from 2008, 2009 and 2011. Her omission from the team this season understandably stung.

    "What happened in Melbourne for the team was a great success. For me personally, it was a disappointment," she said.

    "However it helped make me even more determined to go ahead and be the best I can be for this team."


  • Dennis: Australia needed a butt-kicking in team pursuit at worlds

    The Australian team pursuit team down the back straight.
    Article published:
    August 01, 2012, 3:20 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Good start the key to defeating Great Britain

    Australia's men's team pursuit squad knows that a gold medal will not be won easily with an almighty battle expected to get underway when Olympic Games qualifying begins on Thursday afternoon, UK time. The men's team pursuit which gets underway in the London 2012 Velodrome just might be one of the most highly-anticipated events of the track cycling program, with Australia's two-year run in the rainbow jersey coming to an end in April.

    Great Britain set a new world record (3:53.295) in the gold medal ride off at the UCI Track World Championships, pipping Australia by .106 of a second in Melbourne. Their old world mark, set at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games (3:53.314) would be relegated to the annals of history while Australia also set a new personal best time. It was not the result that Glenn O'Shea, Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis and Michael Hepburn wanted but in retrospect, it was needed Dennis told Cyclingnews.

    "I didn't actually think it was too bad of a thing for us," the 22-year-old explained. "We won in London at the World Cup against the exact same team and we probably got a bit far ahead of ourselves.

    "I think we all thought we could have won, not easily, but within a second or so and it ended up being a point-1 [second] loss. We hadn't lost for a number of years; some people look at it differently. We did need that kick up the old butt - it shows that we're not invincible."

    Australia began to re-build its men's team pursuit following the Beijing Games after failing to figure in the medals with its previously successful line-up which included Luke...

  • Gallery: Great Britain and Australia Olympic track training

    Sir Chris Hoy
    Article published:
    August 01, 2012, 12:59 BST
    Cycling News

    Track programme begins on Thursday

    While in the midst of the road events at the London 2012 Olympics the track riders have used the last few days to familiarise themselves with the Olympic velodrome. Opened earlier this year for a round of the UCI Track World Cup, the venue has now turned into the base for the track riders competing in this year’s Games.

    The track schedule begins Thursday with men’s Team Pursuit qualifying and the men’s and women’s Team Sprint Final. With five track days in total and a set of medals to be won, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, France and Russia will be looking to usurp Great Britain’s dominance from four years ago in Beijing.

    On Tuesday a number of nations used the velodrome for one of their final training sessions. The British were out in force with the team pursuiters and sprint team on the boards. The Australian contingent were also out as the track prepares to take centre stage from Thursday.

  • Great Britain disqualified from women's team sprint

    Great Britain's Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish committed a takeover violation in their semi-final round and the resulting relegation ended their bid for a team sprint medal.
    Article published:
    August 02, 2012, 18:25 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Takeover violation ends Olympic medal bid

    Great Britain's Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish were relegated from the women's team sprint on the first day of track racing at the Olympic Games after breaking takeover rules in their second race of the evening.

    The home favourites won their semi-final but later found out that their conduct would lead to relegation after Varnish had pulled over and Pendleton has passed her teammate too early. The commissar's decision brought an end to Varnish's first Games while Pendleton will still race in the Keirin and women's individual sprint.

    "If you don't stick by the rules then that can happen," Pendleton said after the decision had been taken.

    "It's a split second mistake and it can happen so fast. Jess moves up slightly I saw the door and took it and we're both partly to blame for not changing in the legal zone. It's something we've practiced many times and I don't really have any explanation why. I'm disappointed in myself and Jess is equally disappointed. These things happen."

    The pair had started the evening in scintillating form, setting a new world record with a time of 32.526 as they nudged out their old foes, Australia's pairing of Kaarle McCulloch and Anna Meares. That time was soon bettered, though, as China set a mark of 32.447. It appeared as though a match-up between Britain and China would decide the gold medal after the home team defeated Ukraine in their semi with 32.527.

    But news began to filter through of Britain's illegal manoeuvre. Dave Brailsford headed for the commissars and began a lengthy discussion but as he walked away from the scene he indicated that the team had been disqualified.

    "I think it was a commissar who identified that the change may have been illegal and then when they looked at the footage they decided it was a metre or so too early so...

  • Great Britain's men's Olympic team pursuit squad sets world record in qualifying

    Great Britain's men's team pursuit squad set a new world record in the qualifying round at the Olympic Games.
    Article published:
    August 02, 2012, 21:00 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Team faces Denmark in semi-final round on Friday

    Great Britain will face Denmark in a semi-final race of the men's Olympic team pursuit after breaking the world record with a time of 3:52.499 in qualifying. The previous world record of 3:53.295 was set in Melbourne earlier this year by the British team.

    Starting out conservatively, the same four riders from Melbourne of Edward Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Steven Burke and Peter Kennaugh pulled out a slight advantage over the initial leaders New Zealand, only putting in less than a second per kilo on the Kiwis. However as the home crowd began to raise the velodrome roof the foursome began to pull clear putting almost two seconds per kilo into the New Zealanders in the second half. Australia eventually slotted into second with a time of 3:55.694.

    "We've you've got four blokes rattling around a track that quick there's always things that you'll improve on," said Great Britain pursuit coach Dan Hunt.

    "We just came off it a touch in the last lap and a half. We just need to look at why but the analysts are on it and we'll have that information in around half an hour. It was hard control because that's what team pursuiting needs. If you go raggy you go slow so fast is smooth, smooth is fast. We went out to ride fast but smooth. We could have gone faster in the opening kilo but we'd have come off. We pitched it about right."

    The British had been locked away in a training camp prior to the Games and according to Hunt they had posted times pointing to a world record in their training sessions.

    "We did about that in training. Maybe a little quicker but we didn't go right over four kilometres. We know that it was on but the key thing is was that that's just one ride out of three. All we've done is state our intent. I think...

  • Meares stands up for McCulloch after team sprint bronze

    Anna Meares leads out from Kaarle McCulloch in the bronze medal round of the Olympic team sprint in London
    Article published:
    August 03, 2012, 3:10 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Veteran admits she 'overshadows' her younger teammate

    Anna Meares has defended the performance of Australia team sprint teammate Kaarle McCulloch after the pair won a bronze medal on day one of the 2012 Olympic Games track cycling program.

    There was no shortage of drama at the London Velodrome with race commissars relegating the Chinese and the Great British pairings for illegal changeovers. However the analysis from some media quarters of McCulloch’s qualifying ride didn’t sit well with Meares.

    The more experienced of the two, Meares, led off for Australia against Jess Varnish in qualifying, with McCulloch riding to the finish against Victoria Pendleton. Great Britain thrilled the crowds with a new Olympic and World Record time of 32.526, bettering the mark set by Germany at the world championships in April this year. Australia had lost the match-up by 0.3 of a second and would not be competing for the gold medal.

    "I don't like to hear people make the comment that 'it's your position that lost it for us' tonight," Meares who has now made history as the first female track cyclist to win medals in three straight Games after her gold and bronze in Athens, silver in Beijing and bronze in London explained. "We ride out there as a team."

    So much of the pre-Olympic focus on the track has been on the battle between Meares and home-favourite Pendleton with the team sprint the first match-up of the two for the Games. "Queen Victoria" versus the so-called villain in the British media, Meares. It’s a battle that even the Australian media bought into, with an Australian journalist asking Pendleton earlier in the week if she thought Meares was "a cow".

    McCulloch was pressed by the British press if she had let her teammate down, and her emotions boiled to the surface.

    "Since we lost at the test event in Feb I've known I have...