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Ho Ting Kwok from Hong Kong reacts after winning the scratch race
Hong Kong's Kwok Ho Ting became his country's second rider to win a track cycling world title in the scratch race, besting Italian Elia Viviani and Morgan Kneisky of France to claim his first rainbow jersey. His result follows on the 2007 success of compatriot Wong Kam-Po.
Kwok attacked in the closing minutes of the 60-lap and a combination of favourites marking each other and a field full of tired legs allowed the 23-year-old to steal enough of a gap to hold onto his advantage to the line.
Kwok is not an unknown quantity, having won the scratch race at the Melbourne World Cup in 2008 and the Asian championship title in the Madison this year, but he wasn't focusing on the mass-start events as intensely this year - a factor which might have led to his eventual victory.
"I didn't know how the race would go because we've been mainly focusing on the team pursuit - so I was pretty relaxed and not under too much pressure. Because I'm not good at sprinting I tried to break away, and I had success at the end. It was good timing, and maybe I wasn't the strongest rider, so they didn't react right away."
From all accounts, when Kwok attacked, the rest of the field was too exhausted from the intensely aggressive racing to do anything about it. It wasn't until the final few laps that Viviani went after him, and by then it was far too late.
"I was afraid to look behind me," said Kwok. "I just kept thinking about the rainbow jersey - the last four laps I was thinking 'rainbow jersey rainbow jersey rainbow jersey'! I just went for it and when I crossed the line I could finally raise my hands."
Viviani rode an attentive race, but in the end came up a quarter lap short of reaching his goal of a gold medal. "The race was very fast, and really hard," he said. "There were so many attacks, and I stayed near the front for the whole race, but at the final we were all looking at each other. I'm really happy for a medal, but a world championship would have been better.
Kneisky, speaking through his team's endurance coach Herve Dagorne, said the heat and heavy track, combined with 'a bloc' racing left many of the riders unable to launch a chase of Kwok.
"All of the riders were 'a bloc' - we just waited too long for the other riders to chase and realized that everyone was out of gas. But the scratch race is the kind of race you need to take risks, and you never know what is going ot happen. You only have one chance on a track like this, and you have to use your efforts wisely."
Australian Cameron Meyer had his first attempt at the event in a world championship, and while he came away empty handed in seventh, he said the way he felt bodes well for his defense of the points race and Madison titles.
"The points race and Madison are 160-200 laps, and this one is done over 60, so you have to be precise and have a little luck on your side. My legs felt good, though."
Try as he could, Meyer was unable to break the elastic of the field - a fact he attributed both to the quality of the riders, the distance as well as the track itself.
"It's one of those tracks that flows really well. The transitions aren't steep so it doesn't wash a bunch of speed off, so the gaps are a lot harder to get because the pace is so high.
"I think in the longer races we'll see bigger gaps form."
Still, failing to get a medal was a bit tough for the three-time world and Commonwealth Games champion. "In the last two years this is the first time I've finished off the podium. I knew I was targeted and followed a little bit and it'd be hard to get away in such a short race."
American Bobby Lea put in a good performance, finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th, and was "generally pleased" with his ride.
"There were a lot of big name riders in there, but for someone like me it was all about trying to be opportunistic. I'm generally pleased with how I rode, but I kind of ran out of gas at the end. I think the track's a little heavier than most expected, but the last 20 laps were just flat out. It was a real gut check with 8 laps to go and all the strongest guys really wanted it. Everyone was taking shots and 10 guys could have easily won the race."
|1||Ho Ting Kwok (Hong Kong, China)|
|2||Elia Viviani (Italy)|
|3||Morgan Kneisky (France)|
|4||Carlos Alberto Uran Arroyave (Colombia)|
|5||Unai Elorriaga Zubiaur (Spain)|
|6||Martin Blaha (Czech Republic)|
|7||Cameron Meyer (Australia)|
|8||Nicky Cocquyt (Belgium)|
|9||Andreas Mueller (Austria)|
|10||Rafal Ratajczyk (Poland)|
|11||Bobby Lea (United States Of America)|
|DNF||Ralf Matzka (Germany)|
|DNF||Wim Stroetinga (Netherlands)|
|DNF||Tristan Marguet (Switzerland)|
|DNF||Berik Kupeshov (Kazakhstan)|
|DNF||Kazuhiro Mori (Japan)|
|DNF||Turakit Boonratanathanakorn (Thailand)|
|DNF||Cristopher Mansilla (Chile)|
|DNF||Samuel Harrison (Great Britain)|
|DNF||Ivan Savitskiy (Russian Federation)|
|DNF||Muhd Arfy Qhairant Amran (Malaysia)|