Day 2 of the World Track Championships in Los Angeles saw four finals events contested that included the men's individual pursuit, keirin, kilometre TT and women's points race, as well the flying 200 metre qualifying session for the women's sprint. European nations dominated proceedings, with the Dutch taking two golds (men's IP and Kilo), and the Germans and Italy one apiece (men's keirin, women's points race respectively), while Natallia Tsylinskaya of Belarus was the fastest qualifier in the women's sprint.
Australia: Kelly makes it 13, Bates finds form, Dajka crashes hard
'Cyclones' Captain, Shane Kelly, 33, added a keirin bronze medal to his impressive collection which now totals 13 medals (four gold, five silver and four bronze) amassed at 12 World Championships he has contested since his senior debut in 1991. But the veteran of the team and renowned kilometre time trial specialist says he had been aiming a little higher at this World Championships in Los Angeles after opting for a break from the 'kilo' to concentrate on the keirin in 2005.
"[I'm] not really happy with the ride," said Kelly after the medal ceremony. "I was happy with the semi and the heat was good, but the final didn't unfold as I would have hoped. My preparation has been a bit patchy leading up to this and I suppose I've got to be happy with a medal, but I think I could have done a better."
In the final, Kelly was forced into the lead position in the field behind the pace bike - not his preferred option - and jostled with Britain's Jamie Staff ruining his revised plan of jumping onto the wheel of eventual winner Teun Mulder of the Netherlands. "It would have been better if Mulder had come through cleanly on his own without Staff because then I would have had the perfect drop but that's not the way it worked out."
In the women's 25km points race, Sydney's Kate Bates, 22, scored points in eight of the 10 sprints contested to amass a total of 21, but was unable to overhaul Italian Vera Carrara whose winning tally of 31 points included a 20 point bonus for lapping the field.
But Bates, who on senior debut at the 2001 World Championships in Belgium was the silver medallist in the points race, was encouraged by her return to form. "I can take a lot out of that because it's the best I've been for a couple of years," said Bates. "I figure I'm getting back up there and being competitive.
"It's very clear the second half of my race needs a lot of work, because by the time I reach the tenth sprint I'm just not holding up but this year I'm a little bit stronger and every year hopefully I'll back it up better and keep my good form throughout the whole race," she explained. "I do have a lot of potential and after a couple of years of disappointment, I put too much pressure on myself to get back to this level.
"Now the rebuilding is paying off and I've broken my dry patch," she said. "I've got two events to go [individual pursuit and scratch race] and now I'm feeling good going into them."
2002 keirin world champion, Jobie Dajka, 23, made an unscheduled exit from the keirin competition when he crashed heavily just metres from the finish line in the second round after a clash of wheels with Frenchman Arnaud Tournant. Dajka found himself boxed in with a lap and a half to go and opted for the shortest route through the traffic at the bottom of the track. However, German René Wolff blocked his way.
"Then Tournant [also coming through underneath] came onto my back wheel and put me down," said Dajka, admitting he shouldn't have been where he was. "I've got the gas at the moment, so I should have gone around the outside but it's a split second decision you make, and I probably made the wrong one."
The Adelaide rider limped off the track while Tournant needed a stretcher but neither suffered serious injury. Dajka received treatment for a nasty friction burn down his right hip and thigh and will be bruised and sore for a few days but isn't letting the crash upset his focus for the sprint competition scheduled to begin tomorrow morning. "Tomorrow's another day and everything will be pretty good I reckon." he said.
The only other Australian to contest a final on day two of competition was Wollongong's Ben Kersten, 23, who lined up for the one kilometre time trial. The reigning World Cup Series and Australian champion laid it all on the line for a time of 1min02.412sec on a sluggish track to finish in fourth place.
In morning racing, Anna and Kerrie Meares made history as the first sisters to make it to the final four of the same event at a track cycling world championships. The pair will line up in the semi-finals with Anna, 21, the bronze medallist in the sprint in Athens, up against Victoria Pendleton (Great Britain). Commonwealth Games champion, Kerrie, 22, faces Russian Tamilia Abassova who was the runner up in the sprint at last year's Olympic Games.
In the flying 200m qualifying, Kerrie had posted the eighth fastest time (12.650) and Anna the tenth fastest (11.686) but that meant little when the match sprinting began. Both cruised through the first round before drawing the top two seeds in the quarter finals.
Kerrie's race was decided by the officials who relegated Belarus' Natallia Tsylinskaya for a dangerous manouevre in the final 200 metres, while Anna outsprinted Yvonne Hijgenaar of the Netherlands. If all goes to plan, the sisters will meet in the final for gold in what would be only their third head-to-head battle at a major competition.
Tasmanian Mark Jamieson, 20, finished eighth in the men's 4km individual pursuit based on his qualifying time of 4min32.146sec.
USA: Lucky (and unlucky) 13 for Reed and Mirabella
The US squad endured a tough day at the office that began on the morning session on Day 2, with American Jennie Reed (Kirkland, Wash.) clocking a time of 11.775 seconds in the 200m qualifying round of the women's sprint to seed 13th, while Becky Conzelman posted an 11.985 for 18th. With only the fastest 16 riders advancing to round one, Conzelman did not make the cut.
Other action seen by the U.S. team this morning was in the qualifying rounds of the men's keirin, where neither Giddeon Massie (Colorado Springs, Colo.) nor Christian Stahl (Bethany, Conn.) advanced to the second round. Stahl suffered some bad luck this morning when he broke his left collarbone in a crash with Michael Rodriguez (Puerto Rico) in the first heat. He was later taken to a local hospital and released with no other significant injuries.
"The keirin is a lottery," said the 23 year-old Massie afterwards. "Sometimes you get a lucky break and other times you can get the worst breaks possible. I definitely made mistakes but I know what I did and it's something I can learn from for the future."
A self-admitted disappointing performance for Erin Mirabella (La Habra, Calif.) in the women's points race marked the only action for the U.S. National Team in the evening session. Throughout the race, Mirabella seemed unable to make any serious attempts at the sprints or breakaway opportunities. "I think I definitely rode the wrong gear," she explained after the race. "I needed a bigger gear. I was too spun out so when the sprints came and the moves went, I was already at my maximum cadence and had nothing to react with."
The gear selection prevented Mirabella from racing with her standard approach, "During the first part of the race, it became clear to me that my normal race strategies weren't going to work," she commented. "I also hesitated a few times when I should have jumped on things."
Mirabella has another chance to make a good showing on her home turf of southern California tomorrow in the 3km individual pursuit. "It's definitely not the better of my two races," she noted, "but I'm hoping for a good ride."