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By Jacob Burns Today marks the first day of the 2005 UCI Track Cycling World Championships at the...
By Jacob Burns
Today marks the first day of the 2005 UCI Track Cycling World Championships at the ADT Event Center in Carson, California, and the beginning of the first world championships in the United States in 19 years. Events to be contested on day 1 include the men's 40km points race final, women's 500m time trial final, and the men's team sprint qualification and finals.
The first event of the championships will be qualifying for the team sprint, the only sprint style team event in track cycling. From the qualifying round, the top four teams will progress to the finals. In the finals the third and fourth ranked squads will compete for the bronze medal while the top two qualified teams will vie for the world team sprint championship.
In 2004 the French (Mickaël Bourgain, Arnaud Tournant, and Laurent Gané) proved victorious at the world championships in the team sprint after taking on Spain (Escuredo, M. Salvador, Villanueva) in the final round. With Laurent Gané not returning for the French (2005 team: Bourgain, Grégory Baugé, and Tournant) it may open the door for the Dutch (Theo Bos, Teun Mulder, and Tim Veldt), British (Chris Hoy, Jason Queally, and Jamie Staff), Germans (Matthias John, Stefan Nimke, and René Wolff), or Japanese (Kazuya Narita, Yusho Oikawa, and Kazunari Watanabe) to take the top podium position in the three lap, all out sprint affair.
Later in the evening, 22 riders will contest the men's 40km points race, an event with 12 opportunities to score points (not including the bonus of 20 points for lapping the field). With the 2004 points race world champion not returning, favourites will include 2004 Athens Olympic gold medalist Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus), Joan Llaneras (Spa), the gold medalist in the event at the 2000 Olympics and silver medalist at the 2004 Athens games, Juan Curuchet (Arg), the bronze medalist at last year's worlds, and American Colby Pearce (Boulder, Colo.), second overall in the 2004/05 world cup standings.
Pearce may be one of the shining lights at this year's world championships for the U.S. National Team having proven his abilities in more than one world cup over the past few months. If able to make the key breakaways he has the ability to steal the show from Llaneras or Ignatiev.
The 500m TT will be the first women's event contested with overwhelming favourite Anna Meares (Aus) prime to continue her dominance. Meares is the reigning 500m TT world and Olympic champion and has performed well throughout the winter world cup season. If she has been able to maintain the form that brought her Olympic gold and a world record (33.592), she is likely to repeat her title tonight.
Key competitors of Meares in the 2-lap event include: Natalia Tsylinskaya (Blr), the 2002-03 world champion in the event, Nancy Contreras (Mex), the 2001 world 500m TT champion, Simona Krupeckaite (Ltu), 2004 world championship bronze medalist in the event, Tamilla Abassova (Rus), the '04/'05 world cup 500m TT champion, and Elisa Frisoni (Ita), the 04/05 world cup 500m TT overall silver medalist. Also competing, American Becky Conzelman (Cincinnati, Ohio) hopes to take momentum from her two-month training stint in Australia and turn it into a strong performance at these world championships in the 500m TT.