Heiko Salzwedel: Winning takes precedence over world records
There was plenty to ponder for Great Britain team pursuit coach Heiko Salzwedel as he huddled over his laptop at the velodrome at the UCI Track World Championships on Wednesday. The coach had just seen his strongest quartet of Bradley Wiggins, Jon Dibben, Steven Burke and Owain Doull set a time of 3:55.664 to qualify fastest for Thursday’s semi-final clash against Italy.
Although there was room for improvement, Salzwedel stressed that the pre-event talk of breaking their own 2012 world record came secondary to winning the world title.
"Bradley said something about the world record but don’t get me wrong I don’t really care about the world record at the moment. I care about the rainbow jersey and that’s all I care about at the moment," Salzwedel told Cyclingnews and the Guardian after the heats.
Salzwedel is expected to alter his line-up for either the semi-final or the final – should, as expected, Great Britain see off the challenge from Italy.
"They won’t go faster than this," Salzwedel said of Italy’s time of 3:57.800. "At the first kilometre of the Italians, we were first one second ahead. We are using different gears but maybe we start a bit slower and get the real speed out in the second half."
Australia misses medal in women's team sprint by fractions
You would have struggled to fit a piece of paper in the gap that separated the Australians and the Germans in the bronze medal match-up in the women’s team sprint on the opening night of the World Championships.
With the formidable Anna Meares as rider number one, Australia was ahead after the first lap, but Stephanie Morton was unable to keep up the pace set by her more experienced counterpart over the second half, and they were pipped by the Germans by just over a tenth of a second.
"It was really close. We didn’t go as fast as we would have liked but that is part and parcel of racing. You can only race with the legs that you have on the day," Morton told Cyclingnews after warming down in the track centre. "It was a really good experience to be out here and to be in front of the crowd. It was the last major race before Rio, so it was a good dress rehearsal, but it would have been nice to go a bit quicker."
Morton is one of three riders fighting for just two spots in Australia’s women’s sprint team. The 25-year-old was a pilot for Felicity Johnson in the cycling events at the Paralympics in 2012 and won the 1km time trial in the B event. She is now looking forward to getting a chance to compete solo at this summer’s games in Rio.
"It would be really cool," she said. "It’s something that I’ve wanted to do since I was about five years old. The Paralympics was amazing and it was such an experience, but to do it by myself and to go to an Olympics and know that I achieved it on my own would be something different and pretty special."
Germany's bronze shines gold
It might have been third place, but they may as well have been wearing the rainbow jersey such were the smiles on the faces of Kristina Vogel and Miriam Welte after they claimed bronze in the women’s team sprint at the Track World Championships. The pair just edged out Australia to take the bronze medal, a step forward from last year’s fourth place and a big boost after a challenging season.
"Our bronze medal is shining a bit gold because the last season was not that good for us. We had a lot of fourth places and now it was so much a step forward for us that we are not far away from the gold medal ahead of Rio," Vogel told Cyclingnews.
"Miriam was ill a lot [this season], and she had some bad luck when she was cooking, and she spilled some hot water over her feet so she couldn’t train for two weeks before the European Games. That is why she wasn’t so good in the first position. I was doing my best, I was always having the first or second fastest lap, but when the first lap isn’t as fast, I’m not magic. She worked harder, and she wasn’t ill, so that is the reason we had the step forward."
Vogel’s week is far from over, with the Keirin and the defence of her individual sprint title still to come. After getting the taste of the podium already, she’s keen to snap up a few more medals and maybe even gold. "Yeah, I’d love that Worlds jersey," she said.
"We have the Keirin, and sometimes we are the best, but you can have bad luck. I’m free; I’m just trying to do my best and I’m just trying to catch some more medals. I have been the sprint world champion two times in a row, and the hat-trick would be great."
Foreman-Mackey takes surprise bronze medal in individual pursuit
Annie Foreman-Mackey (Canada) surprised even herself when she beat Ruth Winder (USA) to take the bronze medal in the individual pursuit on the opening night of competition at the Track World Championships. The 24-year-old Canadian was riding just her second individual pursuit in a major competition, but put in a calculated ride to take third.
"I’m excited. It was a surprise, and I’m really happy," she told the press after collecting her medal. "I did one individual pursuit at the Pan Am championships but other than that this was the biggest one that I’ve done."
Foreman-Mackey, who has been working her way up the pecking order in Cycling Canada, proved to be a quick learner, after putting in too much effort too early in the qualifying round. While her first 1000 metres were slower in her medal winning ride, she upped the ante for the 2000-metre mark and came home almost four seconds ahead of Winder.
"I started out a little too hot unfortunately but I think I got a little excited and antsy and my second, third and fourth laps were a little quick," she explained. "Tonight I tried to ease up a little bit on the first couple of laps. I wanted to go faster, but it was a smoother ride this evening."