Competition at the Olympic velodrome explodes into life on Thursday with the Men’s and Women’s Team Sprint competitions to be decided – as well as qualification for the Men’s Team Pursuit. In the first of our daily previews we look at all the medal prospects and put our necks on the line with some medal predictions…
Local interest will be high with medal chances in both Team Sprint competitions – although a Gold may be a medal or two too far. And the punishing Olympic format sees the teams ride three times, rather than the usual two – and all within two hours.
If anyone can challenge the Germans in the Men’s Team Sprint, it looks likely to be the French
In the Men’s competition, the new line-up of Philip Hindes, Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy is improving all the time – and we’re delighted to see Hoy back at Man 3 where we think he belongs – but whether Hindes has the experience – and sheer power – to match the opening laps of the French and Germans remains to be seen. This could be one of the tightest competitions in the velodrome, but we think it will be the German trio of Rene Enders, Max Levy and Stefan Nimke that take the Gold with France – Gregory Baugé, Michael D’Almeida and Kévin Sireau – second and Great Britain third. But if you like a bet with longer odds, watch out for the Russians, Kiwis and, of course, the Australians. The Aussies benefitted from some officious judging – which saw the Germans disqualified for a technical infringement – and a home crowd in Melbourne to claim the World title, but they did beat the French in Final.
The format of the competition is rather different to the format used in UCI competition. Heat 1 of the Qualifying round sees Poland take on Venezuela, with China facing Japan in Heat 2. In Heat 3, New Zealand are up against Russia with France and Australia paired in Heat 4. The fifth and final Heat sees Great Britain face Germany. The fastest eight teams progress to Round 1, with the two fastest winners riding for Gold and the other two winners contesting Bronze.
The qualifying round starts at 16:00 British Summer Time (GMT+1) with the First Round at 16:30 and the Finals at 17:59. Give or take.
The World Record for the Men’s Team Sprint is 42.950 seconds – set by the GB trio of Jamie Staff, Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy in the heats at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, en route to the Gold Medal.
Miriam Welte and Kristina Vogel will have a tough time repeating their World Championship peformance
In the Women’s competition it could be the Germans again with Melbourne’s surprise package of Miriam Welte and Kristina Vogel looking to match the Men and take the Gold. Few World Champions have been more delighted with their achievement than Vogel and Welte and despite the fact that it had been coming for a while, their success took me a few people – not least the partisan Australian crowd – completely by surprise. They’ll face stiff opposition from Australia’s Anna Meares and Kaarle McCullough and from Great Britain’s Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish. It’s hard to look much beyond those three, but the Chinese duo of Jinjie Gong and Shuang Guo can’t be ruled out and the Dutch might just surprise a few people.
Heat 1 of the Qualifying round sees Korea take on Venezuela, with Ukraine facing Colombia in Heat 2. In Heat 3, the Netherlands are up against France with Great Britain and Australia paired in Heat 4. The fifth and final Heat sees China face Germany. The fastest eight teams progress to Round 1, with the two fastest winners riding for Gold and the other two winners contesting Bronze.
The qualifying round starts at 16:15 British Summer Time (GMT+1) with the First Round at 17:46 and the Finals at 18:15. Approximately.
The Women’s World Record has been broken several times this year but currently stands at 32.549 seconds, set during the Final of the 2012 World Championships in Melbourne by Welte and Vogel.
Men’s Team Sprint
BRONZE Great Britain
Women’s Team Sprint
BRONZE Great Britain
Men’s Team Pursuit Qualifying
Long-time GB Team Pursuit rider Bradley Wiggins won Gold in the Road Time Trial on Wednesday – can he inspire his teammates?
Away from the medals, Great Britain will be looking to ease through into the First Round proper of the Team Pursuit, inspired by their Gold medal winning former team mate Bradley Wiggins. Wiggins chose not to defend his track titles to concentrate on the Tour details France and the Olympic Time Trial.
With the Team Pursuit following a similar format to the Team Sprint, the 10 teams that qualified for the Games will ride alone today with the fastest 8 going through to tomorrow’s First Round, where they will be paired up based on qualifying times – first vs fifth, second vs sixth, third vs seventh and fourth vs eighth. The fastest two winners from the First Round will ride for Gold, the other two winning teams for Bronze.
Trying to stop the Great Britain squad of Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Steven Burke and Peter Kennaugh from defending their title from Beijing will be – in approximate order of ‘danger’ – Australia, Russia, New Zealand, Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Colombia and Korea. Great Britain will be in Heat 8 – Australia in Heat 10 and qualifying is due to start at 16:42.
The World Record set at the 2012 World Track Cycling Championships in Melbourne by the Great Britain quarter that line up on Thursday is 3:53.295. London proved to be a fast track at the World Cup in February, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see it go this week.