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Argentina lands knockout blow early

Perez and Curuchet (Argentina)

Perez and Curuchet (Argentina) (Image credit: AFP)

By Laura Weislo with additional reporting from Rob Jones in Beijing

The track events concluded with a surprise victory from the Argentinean duo of Walter Perez and Juan Curuchet in the Madison. With all eyes on the world champion British pair of Bradley Wiggins, already the winner of two Olympic gold medals in Beijing, and Mark Cavendish who is coming off four stages wins in the Tour de France, the unlikely pair slipped away early to steal a lap.

Argentina's winning margin was a slim one point over the Spanish duo of Joan Llaneras and Antonio Tauler, and two points ahead of the Russian pair Mikhail Ignatiev and Alexei Markov. They gained five points on their way to taking the lap, and then scored three more points with minor placings in two other sprints. "We made the first punch," explained Perez, "and the first punch counts twice."

The eight points the Argentineans gained was small when compared with the double digit scores of Denmark, Belgium, France and Germany, but as long as they could hold that one lap advantage, they still had a chance at the win. Russia and Spain both stole laps, but neither team could gain enough points to get over the South American duo.

"In the end, we were worried about Spain and Belgium, because we knew that if they gained a lap we could lose. Spain did get the lap, but it was late in the race and they had nothing left for the finish."

The Argentinean's last major success in the Madison came as a win the 2004 World Championships, but despite heading into Athens with that title, they only finished ninth that year.

An old proverb states "age and treachery will overcome youth and skill", and this certainly held true as 33-year-old Perez was the youngest of the gold and silver medal teams. Curuchet, 43, and Joan Llaneras, 39, will retire after the Olympic Games, and both will go home with gold medals to cap off long and successful careers. Llaneras took the win in the points race earlier in the week, which was his second Olympic gold after the points race win in Sydney eight years ago.

Complete coverage of the mens Olympic Madison final.

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