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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, August 3, 2012

Date published:
August 3, 2012, 22:00
  • Hoy leads Great Britain to defend gold in men's team sprint

    Sir Chris Hoy won the fifth Olympic gold medal of his career with victory in the team sprint in London.
    Article published:
    August 3, 2012, 03:29
    Cycling News

    World record time on way to podium

    Great Britain's men's sprint team beat its own world record and defend its Olympic Games' title at the London velodrome on Thursday, beating France into silver while Germany was forced to settle for bronze.

    Philip Hindes, Jason Kenny and Sir Chris Hoy set the fastest time in qualifying with 43.065 seconds. This came after the team was forced to restart after Hindes lost his front wheel and crashed on the first lap.

    However, it was in the team's heat against Japan in which the defending champions but down their most important marker, setting a time of 42.747 and breaking the world record. In the final against France, the British trio set a time of 42.600 to take gold, with Dave Brailsford even celebrating before Hoy had crossed the finish line.

    "We knew it was possible," said Hoy.

    "This didn't just come out of the blue, but we knew if we kept it together, we had to have the best possible race. It's easier said than done. We had an excellent training camp in Newport. We had the full support of the team, and we nailed it.

    Hoy's efforts signalled his fifth gold medal in a glittering career that now sees him tied with Sir Steve Redgrave as Britain's most successful Olympic gold medallist.

    "It's just great to win here in the UK, in front of this crowd, it's phenomenal. You cannot overstate what this means to us. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Dave Brailsford said to us after Bradley's Wiggins' time trial that this was your chance, that you're never going to get this again, to enjoy it. We enjoyed it and we gave it our all."

    After missing out on a medal in April's Worlds, where the team were disqualified, Jason Kenny added that the squad had a point to prove as it searched to defend its Beijing crown.

    "We really wanted to do this after our world championships went disastrously wrong. We kept it really tight and controlled the emotions."

    "This one is unbelievable. It's great, isn't it? I cannot believe how good things went here today. There are a few guys here who are absolutely flying, we knew it was going to be a really close competition. This was probably the closest sprint competition there's ever been."

    Olympic games
  • Germans start without Nimke in Olympic team sprint

    Stefan Nimke (Germany)
    Article published:
    August 3, 2012, 05:37
    Laura Weislo

    2004 gold medalist withdraws last minute due to injury

    The German men came into the 2012 Olympic Games team sprint with the aim of winning gold, but with their star rider Stefan Nimke suddenly ailing before the start, they waged a courageous comeback with replacement Robert Forstemann to claim the bronze medal.

    Max Levy explained to the press the last minute change and what it meant to the German trio, emphasizing the importance of Nimke to their lineup. "Here, Chris Hoy is the big hero, for us it's Stefan Nimke."

    Nimke is the team's most experienced rider. Only 34, he was part of the gold medal winning team in Athens with Jens Fiedler and Rene Wolff in 2004, and then four years later he helped to usher the next generation to the medal stand when he took bronze with Levy and Rene Enders.

    Since then, Nimke has been three-time world champion in the kilometre time trial, and twice team sprint world champion, although the second one came after the disqualification of Frenchman Gregory Bauge for anti-doping whereabouts violations.

    Levy said that Nimke decided the morning of the race that he was not going to be able to start because his back, which he had injured in a crash in training two weeks ago, was not allowing him full strength. "That was a real blow for us," Levy said, adding that Robert Forstemann, who had been set to compete in the individual sprint, was called up as the reserve.

    That shift meant that Levy had to move from second man to third in qualifying, while Forstemann took second with Enders leading off.

    "We just had to get top eight," he said of qualifying. "In so little time it is not possible to make a perfect race."

    "After [qualifying] we had one hour time to focus on our race, and to arrange for the situation. So we did. Big respect for Stefan because he was true and honest and said he cannot race. Also for Robert for coming in out of his training," said Levy.

    Forstemann was more than happy to fill that role, coming away from the Olympic Games with bronze days before he ever expected to compete.

    "It is a great feeling to have an Olympic medal now. I was just the reserve for the team sprint," said Forstemann. "If you had said to me this morning I would have a bronze medal in the evening, I would not have believed it."


    Olympic games
  • Hindes admits to crashing deliberately, then backs away from comments

    Great Britain's team sprint squad show off their Olympic gold medals
    Article published:
    August 3, 2012, 08:12
    Cycling News

    French team officials hope rules are revised

    The intricacies of the track cycling rule book may get a going-over following the Olympic Games but the actions of Great Britain team sprint member Philip Hindes were completely legal.

    Hindes had the task of leading out teammates Sir Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny when the German-born member of the team got off to a wobbly start in Great Britain's qualifying heat against Germany. Hindes then appeared to deliberately ditch his ride before the first bend with Hoy and Kenny reacting quickly to appeal for a re-start which was granted.

    "So I crashed, I did it on purpose just to get the restart, just to have the fastest ride. It was all planned really," Hindes said when interviewed following the incident.

    Following the re-start Great Britain went on to soundly beat the Germans, going 43.065 to the German's 43.710.

    The 19 year-old's admission follows a "very small mistake" at April's UCI Track World Championships where Hindes made an illegal change, causing the team to be relegated and miss out on their bronze medal match sprint. Following that experience, Hindes told media on Thursday that he had talked through various scenarios with his teammates about what to do if things went pear-shaped.

    By the time Hindes fronted the post-event media conference, and the team had collected their gold medal for their defeat of France in the final, he denied that the fall was deliberate.

    "No. I just went out the gate and just lost control, just fell down," he claimed. "My back wheel slipped and totally lost control and then I couldn't handle the bike anymore and just crashed."

    French technical director Isabelle Gautheron was disappointed that Hindes had taken advantage of the rules in such a manner when interviewed by AFP.

    "It's pretty obvious from the video pictures that he crashed to get the restart," she said. "There is nothing in the rules to sanction such an action. But now that he's come out and said it, I hope the authorities consider making a change to the rules.

    "We're still bitter to have lost the final."


    Olympic games
  • Meares admits Pendleton will be "livid" after team sprint disqualification

    Meares and Pendleton battle it out in the semis.
    Article published:
    August 3, 2012, 09:15
    Jane Aubrey

    Australian looks to back up keirin world title with Olympic gold medal

    Anna Meares (Australia) will begin her individual Olympic program on Friday in London, following a bronze medal performance in the team sprint with Kaarle McCulloch.

    The 28-year-old's next task will be backing up her dual keirin world championship wins when the heats get underway. She is competing in her third Olympic Games and it's a challenge Meares is looking forward to.

    "I think tonight is going to make tomorrow unbelievably intense," she said following her appearance in the team sprint on Thursday. Fierce rivals Great Britain were disqualified for an illegal change, robbing the team of a chance to stand on the podium.

    Meares and McCulloch had lined up against Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish in their heat only to lose by 0.3 of a second. Before the start gun, a huge roar from the home crowd drowned out any cheers for the Australians, with McCulloch later admitting that she had been forced to pretend the noise was being created for their benefit.

    "The worst thing you can do is add emotion to a bunch of sprinters as they can use it as motivation," Meares admitted. "Vicky [Pendleton] is going to be there looking for the win. I am going to be there looking for the win and also the Germans are running on a high [after winning gold in the team sprint]."

    Pendleton, like Meares, is contesting three events, and with one of her opportunities to add to her gold medal from the Beijing Olympic Games already gone before her planned retirement, there was no doubt for the Australian as to what effect it would have on the Briton's state of mind.

    "I don't think she is wounded - she will be absolutely livid," she stated. "That can be used as a motivation."


    Olympic games
  • USA women set for historic Olympic first

    Sarah Hammer leads out the US team
    Article published:
    August 3, 2012, 11:27
    Laura Weislo

    Women's team pursuit debuts at velodrome today

    There are four American women waiting to step into the limelight and  help make history when their team pursuit debuts in the Olympic  programme tonight: Sarah Hammer, Lauren Tamayo, Jennie Reed and Dotsie Bausch will take part in three rounds of racing over the next two days to fight for the medals.

    It will be an uphill battle for the team which set the world record in the discipline at the 2010 Panamerican Championships, shortly after its inclusion in the world calendar. Since then, the British team has emerged as favourites, with Canada, Australia and New Zealand also closing down the gaps. In order to hone their technique and training, the quartet spent the past two months working together at the velodrome in Palma, Mallorca, a luxury they had never previously enjoyed.

    "In the last two races, the London test event and the world championships, we were fifth in the team pursuit," Hammer said. "After those two races, we had a get together and tried to figure out how to take the next step. Obviously things have developed, and the racing is only going to get faster. Our goal is to get a medal, whatever color it may be. That would be an incredible achievement for our team. It's a  possibility - we have such talent on the team - we just needed to figure out how to get the best out of each of us.

    "We had great training sessions in Mallorca and also here in London. We're just looking forward to racing right now. It's the first time  we've spent a dedicated amount of time together that wasn't leading up to an event. It was nice, we were able to focus on training and not necessarily performance. I think we got a lot out of it, and learned a lot. Hopefully it pays off."

    Unlike the road events, where riders compete regularly against each other and know where they stand relative to the competition, the track racers spend many months leading up to the Games apart. Because of this, the US team's chances are for a medal are still largely unknown.

    "It's a very different aspect compared to the road," Hammer explained to Cyclingnews. "A lot of times in the World Cups, not everybody attends. You don't have to race to get fitness, and when you go to races you actually lose fitness during the racing because the efforts are so short. So it's always a guessing game where everybody is at. Everyone has their own plan - but they're all aiming to come into the Games even faster than ever before. That's what is exciting about it."

    Whatever their place, the American women will step into history as some of the first to contest the team pursuit at the Olympic Games, and the first to enjoy equality in the number of events in track cycling. For Hammer, it is a bittersweet moment, because the changes eliminated her previous focus, the individual pursuit, and denied her a second chance after a back injury hampered her gold medal effort in Beijing.

    Now focussing on the team pursuit and omnium, Hammer can see the positives in the new programme. "For myself, one of the down sides is the individual pursuit is gone, but to be able to have two events for the endurance riders, especially the team events is such a great thing. It's shocking, we haven't had team events for women's sprint or endurance before. It's a great thing, and it's about time. It will be a great showcase for everybody."

    Hammer hopes to inspire another generation of girls and women to take up track racing and continue the USA's path to Olympic greatness.

    "We hope we've paved the path for future American women to come up and for the event in general. Hopefully that will continue for us after  we're gone.

    "I think this is going to be one of those Olympics that everyone looks back upon - it's going to have a huge wow-factor. Especially with the team from Great Britain [going so well]. Track cycling is their big sport for these Olympics. Hopefully, we will have some American  supporters in the stands, I encourage them to be very loud for us, especially in the team pursuit."

  • Strict officials bring drama to women's Olympic 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 3, 2012, 12:25
    Laura Weislo

    Tears, frustration in debut of event in London

    The Olympic Games are always heavily laden with drama because of the intense and close competition, but they were made even more emotional at the London velodrome on Thursday when relegations in the women's team sprint denied the British team a chance at the medals, and then stripped the Chinese of the gold.

    The first incident occurred after the British appeared to move onto the gold medal round by defeating Ukraine with a time quicker than the previous two heats, won by Australia and Germany. But the gold medal match up between the Victoria Pendleton and Jessica Varnish and China's Gong Jinjie and Guo Shuang never materialized: the British were penalized for exchanging too early and relegated to eighth place.

    Going up against Germany for the gold, China appeared to have won handily. Guo and Gong had already celebrated their victory and Kristina Vogel and Miriam Welte had gone away to give silver medal interviews when the announcement came that the Chinese had also been relegated to silver.

    Speaking with the UCI's technical delegate Gilles Peruzzi before the competition began, Cyclingnews got a clear explanation of the rule which was enforced strictly at the world championships in Melbourne, leading to the relegation of men's teams from Great Britain, Germany, the USA and Greece, and the Lithuanian women.

    "The explanation we have given to all of the teams is this: when the lead rider crosses the pursuit line, the second rider must still be  behind," Peruzzi said. That line, designating the end of the lap, was fitted with video cameras to allow officials to review footage after the  race to determine if the team exchanged within the rules.

    Whereas the British infraction was blatant - Pendleton was half a wheel ahead of Varnish at the line - the Chinese exchange was much closer, down to fractions of a tire width. It was hard for Gong to accept the judge's decision. "I do not know how the judges made the decision. The time was very short, and when our coach went over to review the video, they said they had no time, the medal ceremony had to begin.

    "In the two rounds before we did not do anything wrong, but in the final we slightly outside of the rules. Because of the speed, it is very fast. It is difficult to control the bicycle at that speed."

    Even the German team, elated to be given gold and still reeling at their good fortune, said it was not the way that they preferred to win. "When you are going 65kph, and there is just some white tape on the track [marking the pursuit line], it is very hard to see," said Welte. Both teams had their coach standing at the line to help give a visual cue for the exchange, but when the judging comes down to millimeters this is  perhaps not enough.

    Repeat Olympic champion Chris Hoy, who later in the evening broke the world record en route to gold with Jason Kenny and Philip Hindes, felt sorry for the Chinese and especially his British teammates. He could empathize with them after his team was relegated from the world  championship qualifying round earlier this year and was unable to compete in the finals.

    "You have to feel sorry for them. We experienced ourselves that in Melbourne, it's a very frustrating thing to happen," Hoy said.

    "Rules are rules. We knew that before we started. The point is consistency - as long as the officials are consistent, then it's OK. It's when they go from being very relaxed to suddenly clamping down, which is what they did at world championships in Melbourne. That was our warning. Once there were a number of teams disqualified in Melbourne, then we were very aware that we have to be careful in the sprint. You have to be 100 per cent safe, otherwise you're going to get relegated."

  • Thomas makes likely final Olympic track racing appearance

    Sky's Geraint Thomas
    Article published:
    August 3, 2012, 19:37
    Daniel Benson

    British rider wins team pursuit gold before refocusing on the road

    Great Britain successfully defended its Olympic team pursuit title, shattering its own world record as it beat Australia in the gold medal ride on Friday. The foursome of Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Steven Burke and Peter Kennaugh finished in a time of 3.51.659 to break the record established the previous day in training. For Thomas at least, it could signify his last appearance on the world track stage.

    "It's great. It's what we've trained for since November, and it's been so much hard work and expectation. To deal with all that and put together the rides we did, it's amazing. You don't really think about it until after the ride, the emotion and how you're going to feel but it's just crazy," Thomas said after picking up his second Olympic gold after being part of Britain's pursuit team in 2008.

    Thomas had pinpointed the track programme towards the tail end of last year, sacrificing a road schedule that could have included the Tour de France.

    "In November after the road season, we had Dave Brailsford and Shane Sutton stopped me from going to see a Rhianna concert because we had training on the track the next day. It's just been that intense since November and now for all that work to now pay off today, it's just fantastic," he said.

    I said from the start of this year that it was all about getting gold in my home Olympics and that's what I wanted to do. It's just fantastic to finally achieve that goal and after so long thinking about it and talking about it with the boys, it's amazing."

    The British team road to victory saw it qualify fastest, beating a world record set at the world championships earlier this year. That ride placed the squad in a heat against the Danish team and after advancing through it met the Australians in the final match up. With home advantage and expectations at boiling point Thomas added that the team's first ride had helped the home squad.

    "It definitely helps to relax you. There's always a bit of anxiety and wondering how you're going to get on so to get that first rider under the belt felt good. With the Australians we weren't too sure how to take that ride to be honest, and we thought they may be holding back a bit. But we didn't get too complacent."

    "Then it was just a case of getting to the final and riding the splits we knew we could. We knew if we did that then they'd really struggle to beat us. Luckily they didn't."

    Thomas's track career will now take a back seat - although he did not rule out another venture onto the boards in 2014 - as he turns his attention back to the road and his progression with Team Sky. A holder of the white jersey in two previous Tours and with a promising set of Classics results behind him, London may well be his track swansong.

    "There's always the Commonwealth Games where I might ride the track, but team pursuit, I don't know. I'm definitely going on the road in the next few years. There is a lot on the road that I want to go for now and achieve. We'll see how it goes. If it doesn't quite go the way that I want then I could quite easily come back to the track and target that again but we'll play it by ear."

  • Baranova is expelled from Olympic Games for doping

    Victoria Baranova (Russia) watches Britain's Victoria Pendleton in their sprint heat.
    Article published:
    August 3, 2012, 20:25
    Cycling News

    Russian tests positive in pre-Olympic test

    Track racer Victoria Baranova was expelled from the Russian Olympic team for doping. She was scheduled to race Friday's women's keirin at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, but was sent home instead.

    The 22-year-old tested positive for a prohibited substance. She has admitted guilt and left the Olympic Games.

    UCI spokesperson Enrico Carpani confirmed to Cyclingnews that Baranova tested positive in a doping test done on July 24 in Minsk. The pre-Olympic test was one requested by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

    "We were informed by the IOC because they conducted the control in the framework of the programme focussed on the Olympic Games. She admitted the violation, and that's the reason why the hearing that was scheduled for Friday has been cancelled as it wasn't needed anymore. After she admitted to her doping the Russian committee sent her home on Thursday morning," Carpani told Cyclingnews.

    "Before the Olympics, the IOC and the UCI had two special programmes and the combination has worked very well. They did their tests, we did ours and it makes the life of cheater much harder. For us it's a very good result."

    Baranova finished third in the sprint at the European track championships. She previously won the European U23 sprint and keirin titles.