There were both sprint and endurance events for the women today, with the Keirin and Points race, but we did not have a rider in the points, so it was all about the sprinting for the UK today.
It is a sign of the strength of the sprint squad that GB earned two starts in the Keirin (places are earned from results in the four rounds of World Cup events leading up to the championships) and they entered the 18 year old, junior world champion Anna Blythe, as well as Victoria Pendleton, who was looking for her third title of the championships.
" People said I would be making history by taking three medals. Maybe I will have to retire now because how am I going to do better than that?'
The word Keirin is Japanese for 'fight' and it is always an aggressive and unpredictable race. Riders drop onto a motorbike pacer (derny) off the line, this motorbike paces the riders for five and a half laps and then pulls off with two and a half laps to go, at which point the race for the line is on.
Pendleton won both her first and second round heats with apparent ease, while Blythe took second and third places respectively, still enough to qualify for a place in the final.
The final itself was a test of nerves and aggression from the moment the gun fired to signal the start. In fact there were an unprecedented two false starts! On the first start the defending World Champion Muche from Germany, dropped down from her start position and pushed Pendleton off the track. It was expected that the German would be warned, but in a surprise decision, the UCI commissaires actually disqualified her and with no mechanism for appeal, she was forced to leave the track. The number of riders contesting this particular race was reduced to just five, so GB's medal hopes with two riders in the final looked pretty good!
Incredibly at the second attempt, the derny malfunctioned the moment the gun fired and the race was once again halted while the derny was replaced.
At the third attempt they were off and Mears (Aus) dropped onto the wheel of the pacing bike, with Pendleton behind her. Blythe rode alongside Pendleton for almost a lap before swinging up and dropping onto the back of the group.
When the derny pulled off the initial charge was led by Reed (USA) and at one point Pendleton found herself boxed in and had to drop to the back of the bunch to give herself racing space. However, she had too much speed for the other girls and when she lit the afterburners she rode round them all to take the win.
The final Keirin race result was:
1 Pendleton (GB)
2 Guo (China)
3 Meares (Aus)
4 Blythe (GB)
5 Reed (USA)
Immediately after the race, the emotions from four days proved too much for Pendleton who was in tears as she stepped off the bike to embraces from the team support and coaches.
In an interview for the BBC who were track side, Pendleton said 'I can't believe I have done it'.
It is no secret that the Keirin has been a difficult event for Pendleton in the past, 'the Keirin has never been my favourite, last year I nearly crashed and I wanted to prove that I could do it'.
She was clearly surprised at the decision to disqualify the defending world champion (Munche (Ger)) on the first start, 'I was trying my hardest not to come off the track, I was not sure if she would be warned'.
And which is her favourite event? 'Definitely the sprint, it is the one I train for and the only one I have got for the Olympics'.
" The final medal tally for Great Britain was an amazing 7 gold medals, 2 silver and 2 bronze. Next in line is Australia with 2 gold and 4 bronze medals. "
How does it feel to have won three titles? 'It is going to be a hard act to follow. Within the team, a world medal is average, so this makes me a bit special. People said I would be making history by taking three medals. Maybe I will have to retire now because how am I going to do better than that?'
David Brailsford, Performance Director (essentially the biggest cheese!) at the British Cycling Federation commented that 'her progression is nothing short of phenomenal, there are not many that could challenge her position as the number 1 female athlete in the UK at the moment, apart from perhaps Nicole Cooke'.
But despite the success of the past few days, when the short term goal which was 'to blow everybody off the track here', it will be business as usual tomorrow, and Brailsford's business is all about winning Olympic medals 'this is the best medal haul ever at a Worlds. We came here to win, but tomorrow I am in the office and the pursuit of medals in Beijing will continue'.
Sadly GB did not earn a place in this race, which was a lively affair with the defending world champion attacking on the second lap. It came to nothing, but four riders did eventually take a lap and with a points bonus of 20 for that, it is not surprisingly all the medals came from this group. The move was started by Mendez (Mexico), but she did not have the legs to fight for the points to earn a medal. Australia's Katherine Bates rode a very sharp race to take the title by 6 points.
1. Katherine Bates (Australia) 35 pts
2. Mie Bekker Lacota (Denmark) 29
3. Catherine Cheatley (New Zealand) 27
And the boys?
Before today, few would dispute that Chris Hoy is the greatest kilo rider of all time and after today it would be harder still. He rode 1:00:999, almost a second faster than silver medallist Pervis (Fra), while Jamie Staff (GB) picked up the bronze after deciding to ride the event only a couple of days before hand. As an aside, Hoy will travel to La Paz in May to attempt to set a new world record at altitude.
In the sprint, there was no medal for MacLean who had to settle for 4th place and there was also disappointment for the pairing of Hayles and Wiggins in the Madison. Wiggins was looking for a third gold medal, but Hayles was not on form and they did not feature in the action.
Re distributed with kind permission of shecycles.com
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