The first full session of the 2015 UCI Track Cycling World Championships saw three rainbow jerseys awarded in the Men’s and Women’s Team Sprint and the Women’s Points Race. The afternoon’s drama in the Men’s Team Pursuit Qualifiers was nothing compated to what would happen in the Men’s Team Sprint.

Women’s Team Sprint

The women’s team sprint competition kicked off the first evening session of the World Cup. The German pairing of Miriam Welte and Kristina Vogel were clear favourites for the title having won the three previous world titles as well as gold in the London Olympic games in 2012. However, the veritable pairing were defeated in the London round of the Track World Cup by the impressive Chinese duo of Tianshi Zhong and Jinjie Gong and with Daria Shmeleva and Anastasia Voynova lining up for Russia, victory for the Germans was far from certain. Great Britain’s hopes were pinned with Jess Varnish and Victoria Williamson who would be hoping to perform better than the bronze medal won in the previous two world championships.

Unlike the team pursuit, the team sprint competition has no round one meaning the fastest four teams qualify for the medal finals.

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New Zealand were the first team to break the 34 second mark, the team of Katie Schofield and Stephanie Mackenzie clocking 33.715 to put them ahead of early leaders, Mexico. The Dutch pairing of Shanne Braspennincx and new sprint sensation, Elis Ligtlee, edged ahead of the Kiwis with a time of 33.463. Disappointingly for Great Britain, Varnish and Williamson could only muster a time of 33.583 – good enough for fourth place at the time, but would be unlikely to guarantee a ride one of the finals with the favourites still yet to ride.

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Russia and Australia both duly delivered 32 second performances (32.518 and 32.878 respectively) to knock Britain into sixth place.

The last two teams to ride – Germany and China – would undoubtedly be the deciding heats. The Chinese put in a demonstration of why they have been so impressive in the recent World Cup events and clocked a fast 32.562. The Germans were unable to match this – their time of 32.712 only good enough for third fastest and their hopes of winning a third world title in a row were now dashed. Russia would face China in the gold medal final, whilst Germany would be pitted against Kaarle McCulloch and Anna Meares of Australia for bronze.

In the finals, the Germans suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Australians McCulloch and Meares. Despite Miriam Welte putting in a fast opening lap, the strength of Meares in the second saw them triumph by nine-hundredths of a second.

The gold medal final was a display of brilliance by the Chinese duo of Zhong and Gong. Gong’s opening lap of 18.353 immediately gave the Chinese a fifth of a second advantage over the Russians, and Zhong’s exceptional closing lap saw them cross the line in 32.034 – a new world record time, as well as demonstrating that a women’s 31 second two lap race is now eminently possible.

Women’s Team Sprint Results

GOLD China (Jinjie GONG, Tianshi ZHONG) 32.034 (WR)
SILVER Russia (Daria SHMELEVA, Anastasia VOYNOVA) 32.438
BRONZE Australia (Kaarle MCCULLOCH, Anna MEARES) 32.723
4 Germany (Miriam WELTE, Kristina VOGEL) 32.817

5 Netherlands (Shanne BRASPENNINCX, Elis LIGTLEE) 33.463
6 France (Sandie CLAIR, Olivia MONTAUBAN) 33.476
7 Spain (Tania CALVO BARBERO, Helena CASAS ROIGE)) 33.556
8 Great Britain (Jessica VARNISH, Victoria WILLIAMSON) 33.583
9 New Zealand (Katie SCHOFIELD, Stephanie MCKENZIE) 33.715
10 Colombia (Martha BAYONA, Juliana GAVIRIA) 34.458

Women’s Points Race

The only other event on the programme for the evening was the women’s points race. With the reigning world champion, Amy Cure, absent from the line-up, last year’s silver medallist, Germany’s Stephanie Pohl, would certainly be hoping to go one better in the 2015 championships and take the gold medal.

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Her campaign started well: she got away early with Minami Uwano of Japan to take full points in the first points lap with Evgeniya Romanyuta (Russia) and Tetyana Klimchenko (Ukraine) taking the minor points. Many had predicted the Italian, Giorgia Bronzini, to feature in the early points, although it took her a whole 30 laps before she claimed two points in the third points lap behind Sofia Arreola Navarro (Mexico) and Leire Olaberria Dorronsoro (Spain). Taking full points in the next sprint was enough to give Bronzini the overall lead as the race approached the halfway point.

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Two points in the fifth sprint were enough for Pohl to take the lead, although Kimberley Geist (USA) took maximum points – and went on to lap the field to put herself in top spot. However, Geist’s glory was short lived with Pohl going on to take a further lap with French rider, Elise Delzenne. After taking the seventh sprint, Uwano went on to take another lap to seat her firmly in second place behind Pohl. Poul took the eighth sprint lap ahead of Bronzini to cement her dominance in the race.

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However, Bronzini’s deadly coupling of endurance and sprint prowess came to the fore in the final few laps, taking the final two sprints – and more sprint points than any other rider in the race. However, without the lap gains, Bronzini could only finish in fifth place, with Pohl taking the well deserved world title. Uwano took silver, with Geist’s five points in the fifth lap being crucial in taking the bronze from Delzenne.

Women’s Points Race (Results)

GOLD Stephanie POUL GERMANY 38 points
SILVER Minami UWANO JAPAN 28 points
BRONZE Kimberley GEIST UNITED STATES 25 points
4 Elise DELZENNE FRANCE 23 points
5 Giorgia BRONZINI IRALY 20 points
6 Sofia ARREOLA NAVARRO MEXICO 13 points
7 Kirsten WILD NETHERLANDS 9 points
8 Arlenis SIERRA CANADILLA CUBA 7 points
9 Evgeniya ROMANYUTA RUSSIA 5 points
10 Maria Luisa CALLE WILLIAMS COLOMBIA 4 points

Men’s Team Sprint

The competition for the men’s team sprint prize was set to be fierce. The reigning world champions, New Zealand, would be looking to repeat their gold medal performance at Cali a year ago with an identical team line-up of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Edward Dawkins. The French team of Gregory Bauge, Kevin Sireau and Michael D’Almeida, would be hoping that home advantage would help them to deliver a better performance than the bronze they had won in Cali the previous year. The Germans, who won a silver medal a year previously, were also amongst the favourites whilst the Great British team of Jason Kenny, Philip Hindes and Callum Skinner would be hoping to emulate their gold medal performance at the Track World Cup in Mexico in November.

After the first ten teams had ridden, it was Russia who had managed to pull out the fastest performance so far. The fast 29.970 second leg by Denis Dmitriev was undoubtedly the deciding factor in seeing the team to cross the line in 43.317 – a time which could not be matched by both Australia and the Netherlands.

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Great Britain were up against the home nation, France, in the next heat. The home support for the French trio was loud and raucous, and British fans would be hoping their trio could channel the noise to their own advantage. However, the opening lap for the British team saw Callu
m Skinner lose contact with Kenny and Hindes meaning Skinner could only muster a 13.798 second final lap to cross the line in sixth place with a time of 43.808 for the three-lap race.

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New Zealand closed the qualifiers with a blistering time of 42.892 which earned them the fastest qualifying slot and enough to face France in the ride for the gold medal. Germany would be pitted against Russia for the bronze. 

The bronze medal final saw the Germans take victory over Russia. Perhaps not the ideal result, but a better performance the female pairing. New Zealand, meanwhile, looked to have the gold medal in the bag when Ethan Mitchell put half a second into Gregory Bauge in the first lap. Seemingly unfaltering throughout, the Kiwis crossed the line in 42.808 – a third of a second clear of the French who crossed the line in 43.136. However, jubilation in the New Zealand camp was soon supressed after the team were heartbreakingly relegated for an early change which, although contested, was not overturned. Webster’s Twitter comments clearly showed they acknowledged that he was in the wrong: “Devastated. I came under Ethan a few centimetres early in our change over and we went from winning to relegated. 42.808 REL, no rainbow.”

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Meanwhile, the French were jubilant as they took home their first title of their home championships. 

Men’s Team Sprint Results

GOLD France (Gregory BAUGE, Kevin SIREAU, Michael D’ALMEIDA) 43.136
SILVER New Zealand (Ethan MITCHELL, Sam WEBSTER, Edward DAWKINS) REL
BRONZE Germany (Joachim EILERS, Rene ENDERS, Robert FOERSTEMANN) 43.339
4 Russia (Pavel YAKUSHEVSKIY, Denis DMITRIEV, Nikita SHURSHIN) 32.468

5 Netherlands (Jeffrey HOOGLAND, Hugo HAAK, Matthijs BUCHLI) 43.326
6 Australia (Nathan HART, Shane PERKINS, Matthew GLAETZER) 43.379
7 Poland (Rafal SARNECKI, Kamil KUCZYNSKI, Krzystof MAKSEL) 43.481
8 Great Britain (Philip HINDES, Jason KENNY, Callum SKINNER) 43.808
9 Venezuela (Hersony CANELON, Cesar MARCANO, Angel PULGAR) 43.982
10 Korea (Jeyong SON, Dong Jin JANG, Chaebin IM) 44.149

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