Suspense, surprises and a full house on the third day of WC track racing25/03/2011
On day three of the track cycling World Championships in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, the super stars of the sprint gave it their all. Under the watchful eye of the Chairman of the International Cycling Union (UCI), Pat McQuaid, the race grew into the evening's showpiece, and produced an unbelievable winner. “This is what bicycle racing was meant to be,” was McQuaid's assessment. “Tremendous competition among riders, but at the same time a perfect organisation, and last but not least terrific public interest. This deserves nothing but praise.”
Nothing and no one was able to withstand the strength displayed by Grégory Baugé in the men’s sprint. The Frenchman first eliminated his countryman Mickaël Bourgain in the semi-finals. The manner in which he subsequently dominated the duel with the Brit Jason Kenny, with the rainbow jersey as the trophy, was simply masterful. Baugé captured his third world title in a row in two races. He then walked up the track’s steep incline in his racing shoes, holding onto the railing, to receive his first congratulations from his family.
The fight for the bronze medal was moving. Veteran Chris Hoy, who after his gold rush at the Olympic Games in Beijing (three gold medals) was ennobled, let himself be browbeaten by Bourgain. The score evened out after race two; that triumph inspired the knighted Hoy (34) to make an ultimate third successful effort. The bronze plaque is only the second time that he managed to capture a prize in the individual sprint during a World Championship.
Sarah Hammer (US) extended her title in the individual pursuit, however, her lead over her New Zealand opponent, Alison Shanks, was barely perceptible after three kilometres: 0.29 seconds. The Lithuanian, Serekaite, won the bronze medal. Ellen van Dijk represented the Dutch team. The Amsterdam resident was forced to drop out after the qualifying rounds (fifth place).
A slight South American brought the packed Omnisport Complex to its feet in the points race event. Halfway along the 160 lap race, Edwin Alcibiades managed to gain a lap on the rest of the field all by himself. Even then, the Columbian had enough energy left to earn points in the sprints held every 10 laps. His efforts kept former champion Cameron Meyer (AUS) from gold. Meyer earned silver, while the Frenchman Kneisky secured bronze in the final sprint. Peter Schep, representing the Dutch team on the track, finished sixth after a gripping race in which the field gave him, as a former world champion, just too little freedom of movement to allow him to take the lead during one lap. His performance did give Schep the necessary self-confidence that should serve him well for the Madison race he will be riding together with Theo Bos on Sunday.
Tickets are still available for the last day of races. The Omnisport Complex is almost sold out for Saturday.