A nearly empty stadium greeted the riders on the first day of the Track World Cup in Guadalajara, with the 20 women’s Team Pursuit qualifying heats forming the first 90 minutes of the race proceedings. The velodrome filled up during the session as 24 Men’s Team Pursuit heats followed that, with 22 teams contesting the Women’s Team Sprint and 24 the Men’s.
Women’s Team Pursuit
The first team to break 4:30 were Italy who clocked a time of 4:27.812 in the 11th heat. The quartet’s steady start enabled them to ride a controlled negative split and, with 500m remaining, the four had a virtual place in the bronze-medal ride off race. The loss of Beatrice Bartelloni proved costly however and, although riding the fastest time of the competition so far, they faded to just nudge beneath the 4:28 barrier.
It was the New Zealand team who followed Italy who were the first to steal a position from Italy. Also riding a conservative start – perhaps due to the fact this was the first time for a number of years that New Zealand had field a team pursuit squad – Italy were actually up until the final 750m. However, the strength of the Kiwi squad meant saw them ride a fast 1:06.160 final kilometre to take the lead.
The next threat to the lead came in the slightly unorthodox form of China. The well-ordered team were ahead of New Zealand until just half a lap to go when, heartbreakingly, the loss of Yali Jing saw them fade to finish behind New Zealand in a time of 4:27.272. Meanwhile, the young Australian team who had been hotly tipped for a medal, made an overly enthusiastic start with a blistering first kilometre – almost certainly through immaturity – and found themselves slip to a disappointing time of 4:30.448.
The penultimate heat was for the Canadian team, another team who would be disappointed not to medal. A relatively conservative start meant the quartet were not in contention for the medal ride-off finals with 500m to go. However, being one of just five teams who managed to keep all four riders together for the whole race, the team were able to keep strong to the last and clocked the second fastest time of the day so far (4:27.214).
Great Britain was the final team to ride. Consisting of the experienced Laura Trott, Elinor Barker and Katie Archibald, as well as relative newcomer Ciara Horne who had helped the team to the European title in October. Great Britain rode the textbook team pursuit to stop the clock at 4:20.066; over six seconds clear of the New Zealand team.
With the strong teams of Italy and Australia being pushed in to the bottom end of the first round draw, Great Britain will now face China in the First Round with New Zealand against Canada for the other Gold medal final place.
Women’s Team Pursuit Qualifying
1 Great Britain (Kate ARCHIBALD, Laura TROTT, Elinor BARKER, Ciara HORNE) 4:20.066
2 New Zealand (Rushlee BUCHANAN, Lauren ELLIS, Jaime NIELSEN, Georgia WILLIAMS) 4:26.697
3 Canada (Allison BEVERIDGE, Jasmin GLAESSER, Kirsti LAY, Stephanie ROORDA) 4:27.214
4 China (Dong Yan HUANG, Yali JING, Jiang WENWEN, Baofang ZHAO) 4:27.272
5 Italy 4:27.812
6 Germany 4:29.891
7 Australia 4:30.338
8 Cuba 4:30.492
9 USA 4:32.069
10 Russia 4:34.613
Men’s Team Pursuit
The men’s team pursuit teams were next to contest themselves over sixteen laps, with 24 teams filling the startsheets. The Mexican team lighted up the home crowd in the third heat by riding the quickest time so far up to halfway, but faded badly to clock a time of 4:16.476.
It took until the fourteenth heat for the first team to ride a sub-4 minute time in the form of the Netherlands. Riding consistently throughout, the team clocked an impressive new national record of 3:58.235, despite the loss of third-man Roy Eefting.
The next team to knock on the door of the sub-4 team pursuit was Germany. A very measured start meant the team only rode the tenth fastest first kilometre, but the steady start meant the team were able to accelerate through to the third kilometre. Sadly for the Germans, the acceleration proved a little too enthusiastic and a 59.728 final kilometre pushed the team down the rankings – and out of contention for one of the top three places. They ended up having to settle for a time of 3:59.686. The Russians followed and despite the team being an outside favourite for a medal faded badly after halfway and were only able to cross the line in a time of 4:03.560.
The Swiss were the next team to dip into the elusive sub-4 territory. A sedate start provided the energy needed to chalk up a fast final half of the race to clock an extremely credible time of 3:58.269.
The Great Britain men’s team pursuit squad were next up and the much improved team were coming to the event on the back of a gold medal in the European championships in October. The quartet of Jonathan Dibben, Steven Burke, Andrew Tennant and Mark Christian rose to the challenge of maintaining the streak of good performances by transforming a steady start into a fast-finishing time of 3:57.661 – the fastest of the day so far.
With New Zealand providing little competition in the following heat, it was only Australia who could upset the applecart now, and upset it they did. The strong line up of Glenn O’Shea, Daniel Fitter, Miles Scotson and Samuel Welsford were able to translate a fast start into a fast victory despite fading slightly in the final kilometre.
The men’s Team Pursuit competition concluded with Australia and Great Britain the highest seeds for teh First round with Great Britain to face the Netherlands and Australia up against Switzerland for the other Gold Medal ride berth.
1 Australia (Glenn O’SHEA, Daniel FITTER, Miles SCOTSON, Samuel WELFORD) 3:57.132
2 Great Britain (Jonathan DIBBEN, Steven BURKE, Andrew TENNANT, Mark CHRISTIAN) 3:57.661
3 Netherlands (Tim VELDT, Dion BEUKEBOOM, Roy EEFTING, Wim STROETINGA) 3:58.235
4 Switzerland (Silvan DILLIER, Stefan KUENG, Frank PASCHE, Thery SCHIR) 3:58.269
5 New Zealand 3:59.530
6 Germany 3:59.686
7 Denmark 4:00.965
8 Spain 4:01.445
9 Colombia 4:02.294
10 Belarus 4:03.022
Women’s Team Sprint
In the Women’s Team Sprint which followed and, with no 500m time trial for the ladies in the Guadalajara competition, the team sprint formed a key event for the sprinters. it was difficult to see past the veritable German pairing of Kristina Vogel and Miriam Welte. With three gold medals already in the discipline and a world record, the pair have dominated the scene over the past few years. However, the Russians recently challenged their supremacy by snatching the gold medal in the European championships and with three-time team sprint world champion Kaarle McCulloch pairing with Commonwealth sprint gold medallist, Stephanie Morton, for Australia, the competition was set to be intense.
The first team to dip below 34 seconds were the New Zealand duo of Stephanie McKenzie and Katie Schofield in the fifth heat, which also saw Venezuela disqualified. However, it was the Dutch in the seventh heat who caused the first real stir: the young pairing of Shanne Braspennincx and U23-rider Elis Ligtlee rode a fast sub-33 time of 32.958 seconds setting the benchmark for the rest of the competition.
McCulloch and Morton proved they were indeed a force to be reckoned with in heat 9, taking nearly a quarter of a second out of the Dutch duo with a time of 32.936. The Russians, who had been victorious on the 333.3m track in Guadeloupe, were unable to replicate their performance on the standard length track, although still managed to clock a time of 32.962 to sit in third place so far.
With the British pair of Dannielle Khan and Jessica Varnish fading badly in the second lap to finish in 34.023 seconds and the tipped Chinese coupling of Jinjie Gong and Lin Junhong disqualified, the Germans were left to finish the competition – and they did so in style. Clocking an 18.678 first lap, the pair stopped the clock in 32.485 seconds – nearly half a second faster than their closest competition.
The Germans therefore go forward to contest the gold medal with Australia, whilst the Dutch will go head-to-head with Russia for the Bronze; the latter two teams separated by just four-hundredths of a second in the heats.
Women’s Team Sprint Qualifying
1 Germany (Kristina VOGEL, Miriam WELTE) 32.485
2 Australia (Kaarle MCCULLOCH, Stephanie MORTON) 32.936
3 Netherlands (Shanne BRASPENNINCX, Elis LIGTLEE) 32.958
4 Russia (Daria SHMELEVA, Anastasia VOINOVA) 32.962
5 Spain 33.100
6 France 33.453
7 New Zealand 33.469
8 Colombia 33.948
9 Great Britain 34.023
10 Mexico 34.211
Men’s Team Sprint
The final event of the evening was the men’s team sprint. Like the women’s event, the lack of kilo time trial for the men meant the event was a key focus for the sprinters.
Korea were the first team to clock a sub-44 time for the three laps with a time of 43.801, with Japan achieving the same feat with a clocking of 43.922 just two heats later. However, with Venezuela putting in a 43.497 time in the following heat with Colombia a 43.531, it was clear that a sub-43 ride was almost certainly needed to qualify for the gold medal final.
With medal outsiders Australia riding a fast 43.042, the Netherlands and France had to ride a fast time to get through to the finals. The French team of Gregory Bauge, Michael d’Almeida and Kevin Sireau were tipped for a medal after collecting a silver medal in the European championships last month, but a strong Dutch team caused the first big shock of the event by beating the French with a time of 43.028 against the French time of 43.169.
The British trio of Philip Hindes, Jason Kenny and holder of four 2014 national sprint titles, Callum Skinner, followed in the next heat and rode an exceptional race to cross the line in the first sub-43 time of the evening (42.783) to confirm a place in one of the medal ride-offs with Russia only able to produce a mediocre 43.969.
It was perhaps of little surprise that the recently crowned European champion German trio of Stefan Botticher, Joachim Eilers and Robert Forstemann rode a fast time in the final heat of 42.354. The bigger surprise was that their heat counterparts and reigning world champions, New Zealand (Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Edward Dawkins), were only able to muster a time of 43.047.
Great Britain will go forward to contest the gold medal with Germany, whilst a buoyant Dutch trio will compete for the bronze against New Zealand.
Men’s Team Sprint Qualifying (Unofficial results due to late posting of results)
1 Germany (Stef
an BOTTICHER, Joachim EILERS, Robert FORSTEMANN) 42.354
2 Great Britain (Philip HINDES, Jason KENNY, Callum Crichton SKINNER) 42.783
3 Netherlands (Matthijs BUCHLI, Hugo HAAK, Nils VAN’T HOENDERAAL) 43.028
4 New Zealand (Ethan MITCHELL, Sam WEBSTER, Edward DAWKINS) 43.037
5 Australia 43.042
6 France 43.169
7 Venezuela 43.497
8 Colombia 43.531
9 Korea 43.801
10 Japan 43.922