Day 4 of the Olympic track competition again sees just a single medal awarded – in the Men’s Omnium – but the day is dominated by the Sprint competitions with the Men’s Sprint Quarter Finals taking place and the Women’s competition kicking off with 200m Qualifying and the 1/16 and 1/8 Finals.
The day kicks off with the Men’s Omnium 4km Pursuit, which will have a big influence on the overall. It isn’t current leader Bryan Coquard’s strongest event and is likely to see the Frenchman’s lead cut – if not wiped away. Early leader Ed Clancy of Great Britain will be one of those who is likely to gain ground here, but the one to watch will be Glenn O’Shea of Australia. O’Shea, Clancy and Lasse Norman Hansen of Denmark are the most likely winners – and Elia Viviani of Italy the weakest of the top 5 in this discipline.
That should close things up at the top of the table for what is likely to be the pivotal event – the Scratch Race. To have any chance of Gold, Clancy will have to ride the race of his life and finish within a place or two of O’Shea.
That will set him up for the closing event, the Kilometre time trial, which he should win comfortably. In Melbourne in April he lost out on a medal when tied for 4th as the deciding formula was cumulative time for the 250m, 4km and 1km efforts. He won two of the three, but his losing margin on the longer event was larger than his combined winning margins in the other two – hardly surprising, given the relative distances.
It’s going to be a close one, but we think Australia may well break it’s track Gold medal drought here, with O’Shea’s consistency taking him to the title, with Hansen’s Pursuit speed and bunch race expertise tying up the Silver and Clancy getting the Bronze this time, without any need for endurance-biased formulae.
The second event in the morning session is the 200m qualifying for the Women’s Sprint. This will be a fascinating contest and, on paper, another Great Britain vs Australia clash. All the talk on television and in the papers is of the battle between Anna Meares and Victoria Pendleton. Can Vicky’s excellent form carry her through – or will Meares be able to dig deep and overcome the disappoint of the Team Sprint and the Keirin.
Those questions will be answered, of course – but they aren’t the only ones worth asking. Can Kristina Vogel of Germany turn her obvious Team Sprint pace into an individual Sprint medal? And, more crucially, can Shuang Guo of China – fastest in the Team Sprint and second in the Keirin – go won better in the individual event.
As with the Men, we’re not going to stick our necks out and make a full prediction before the first day of competition, but we will go as far as to say that the Gold medal will go to one of those four…
The Quarter Final Heats for the Men’s Sprint will be…
KENNY Jason GBR
AWANG Azizulhasni MAS
BAUGE Gregory FRA
FORSTEMANN Robert GER
PERKINS Shane AUS
WATKINS Jimmy USA
PHILLIP Nijsane Nicholas TRI
DMITRIEV Denis RUS
…and much as we’d like to see Azizul Awang go through, we think Kenny’s form will give him the edge. Baugé, too, looks quietly confident – and Forstemann doesn’t quite seem to have the edge.
The other two heats are fascinating. On paper, Perkins should win Heat 3 at a canter – but Watkins has been mightily impressive – at least in terms of sheer speed. And in Heat 4, Dmitriev would have been odds-on favourite on Wednesday, but Philip has shown speed and guile…
Time for us to make our predictions for tomorrow’s gong distribution.
GOLD Grégory Baugé FRA
SILVER Jason Kenny GBR
BRONZE Nijsane Phillip TRI