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UCI Track Cycling World Cup III – Cali – Day 1; Session 1

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The World Cup returned to the breezy outdoor track in Cali in Colombiafor the thirteenth time this weekend, the stadium having been used on twelve previous occasions for the World Cup. Francois Pervis will be one of the riders hoping Cali’s thirteenth hosting of the event will bring him the same fortune he had in the velodrome at the World Championships a year ago when he became the first track cyclist to win the kilometre, individual sprint and keirin world titles in the same event.

Whilst other European cyclists, the great Kristina Vogel amongst them, are choosing to sit out Cali in order to prepare for the world championships in Saint Quentin in France next month, Pervis has made it clear that he plans to use Cali as preparation to defend his multiple world titles on home soil next month.

Vogel is not the only big name to be absent from the Colombian round of the World Cup: the Great Britain teams did enough to assure team managers of their form in the previous two rounds, allowing the development squads to have a chance at competing. Germain Burton, Matthew Gibson, Christopher Latham, Mark Stewart and Oliver Wood will all be hoping to elevate their status by the end of the weekend. The ladies’ endurance squad will also be absent with the trade Team Team USN flying the British flag consisting of Ellie Coster, who demonstrated her future potential at the most recent Revolution event, Emily Kay, Manon Lloyd, Emily Nelson and Amy Roberts. The male sprint squad will be replaced by Matt Crampton, Lewis Oliva and Jonny Biggin, with Jess Varnish and Victoria Williamson being the only pair to compete in all the world cup events this season. Varnish and Williamson will also be joined by Katy Marchant in the last round.

Australia are following the British example and sending a development squad: the women’s silver medal winning team pursuit team replaced with an entirely new squad. The team are far from being without talent, however: Macey Stewart is reigning junior omnium and road time trial World Champion. The Australians were, however, put on the back foot from the start: they arrived in Colombia to find their luggage and bikes hadn’t.

Women’s Team Pursuit

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The first event of the evening was the women’s team pursuit qualifying. A total of seventeen teams were listed on the startsheet, with the first eight progressing to the first round. The British trade team, Team USN, were off in the first heat. The quartet started well, although were unable to claw back time lost in the second kilometre and, with gaps forming in the final kilometre, the team eventually crossed the line in a still credible 4:42.472.

Ireland followed Team USN and paid dearly for losing Josie Knight very early on. Despite performing well as a trio, the squad could only finish in 4:42.731. The French squad gave one of the most ragged performances we have seen this season and could only muster a time of 4:53.409 – the slowest time we have seen in all rounds of the World Cup this year by some two seconds.

It was Hong Kong who were the first team to put in a sub-4:40 time. The team, who finished 19th out of 20 heats in the first round in Guadalajara in 4:45.587 and improved to 14th in London with the same quartet, demonstrated the value of a season of practice to clock a fast 4:38.871 – a time which is effectively nearly half a lap faster than their performance in the first round.

The home Colombian squad were off in the seventh head and, despite the highly vocal support, were unable to translate this into an enthusiastic start with the quartet riding the slowest of all teams in the competition for the first two kilometres. The steady start meant they were able to increase their pace throughout the final two kilometres with their final finishing time of 4:41.898 respectable. Heartbreakingly, however, the time was only good enough for ninth – and therefore out of the top eight places who would qualify for the first round.

The Italians were up next and, with the same squad that rode the London event toeing the line, their experience was palpable. A steady start meant their pace dropped off less during the end, and the well-ordered quartet finished in a time of 4:37.134. The Germans looked like they might threaten the top of the leaderboard after three kilometres, but a notable fade in the final kilometre meant they could only claim fifth position.

The Chinese were the next team who had the potential to threaten the lead. Two of the riders who had qualified to the bronze medal final in the London round were present in the Cali squad. The experience of the squad paid off, and the team held on to claim the fastest time of the qualifying heats: 4:35.477. With the United States unable to threaten this lead in the following heat, all eyes were on the young Australian squad. Three of the team (Macey Stewart, Alexandra Manly and Lauren Perry) were already reigning junior champions in the discipline and were joined by nineteen year old Elissa Wundersitz. Despite a strong finish, the team were unable to challenge the fast time set by China and had to settle with the third fastest time of the evening, 4:37.969.

Women’s Team Pursuit Qualifying

1 China (Dong Yan HUANG, Jin DI, Hongyu LIANG, Baofang ZHAO0 4:35.477
2 Italy (Simona FRAPPORTI, Beatrice BARTELLONI, Tatiana GUDERZO, Silvia VALSECCHI) 4:37.134
3 Australia (Macey STEWART, Elissa WUNDERSITZ, Alexandra MANLY, Lauren PERRY) 4:37.969
4 Hong Kong (Bo Yee LEUNG, Zhao Juan MENG, Yao PANG, Qianyu YANG) 4:38.871
5 Germany 4:39.347
6 Belarus 4:39.879
7 United States 4:40.428
8 New Zealand 4:40.978
9 Colombia 4:41.898
10 Team USN 4:42.472

Men’s Team Pursuit

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The men’s team pursuit qualifying followed the ladies’ event with 24 teams completing the line-up for the 4km event. Ireland, using the same quartet
who rode the Guadalajara event in the first round of the world cup, set the initial marker of 4:13.214. Whilst the four minute mark was unlikely to be threatened in the qualifying rounds of the pursuit due to the track being outdoor, a time of sub-4:10 would undoubtedly be needed to get through to the first round.

It was the French team who were the first to ride sub-4:10 in just the third heat, and it took a further seven heats for the 4:10 mark to be challenged again. This time, it was Belarus who set the bar lower with a time of 4:08.239. Riding in their first World Cup event of the season, Russian trade team, Rusvelo, followed Belarus and put in an exceptional ride to cross the line in the fastest time so far (4:04.405).

The next team to make an impression were the Belgian quartet. Three of the team were the same as the one who rode to a 4:04.537 in Guadalajara which on a day of fast qualifying was only enough for 14th. It appeared the addition of Jonathan Dufrasne in the place of Otto Vergaede was a good move by the Belgians: despite struggling in the middle of the race, the team powered through the final laps to finish in a time of 4:06.272 – a little more than 1.5 seconds slower than the time in Guadalajara; arguably a faster track.

The Dutch squad, off in the twelfth heat, had the credentials to threaten top of the leaderboard. Two of the quartet – Tim Veldt and Dion Beukeboom – had ridden in the squad to great success in previous rounds, finishing a credible fifth in London. However, an over conservative start cost the team dearly, and it is credit to the strength of the quartet that they managed to translate a mediocre 2:06.558 at halfway to a finishing time of 4:07.580; a time ultimately only fast enough for ninth place – and out of the qualifying positions for the first round.

Spain were one of the few squads to run the same team throughout the championships. However, after swapping man 1 from Sebastian Mora Vedri with Unai Elorriaga Zubiaur in London saw the team limp into a disappointing nineteenth in qualifying in London, the more successful Guadalajara line-up with used in Cali. Vedri’s slower start paid off for the team: a slow opening four laps meant the team were able to hold their strength throughout the race, crossing the line in 4:06.775: a time good enough for sixth place overall, and qualification through to the next round.

Russia were up next, and the team were unable to produce a time comparable to their trade team counterparts, Rusvelo. A notable fade after losing their fourth man, Nikolay Zhurkin, saw the team cross the line in 4:07.266. Not the fastest time of the evening, but enough to see them qualify in eighth position.

Germany, off in eighteenth, had consistently finished sixth in qualifying in the previous two rounds of the World Cup. The team was unchanged, bar the addition of Domenic Weinstein in the place of Leon Rohde. Weinstein has had success in the team time trial on the road with the domestic German team, Rad-Net Rose. The addition of Weinstein certainly did not disable the team in any way: the team put in an excellent display of team pursuit to rocket them into first place in the closing laps of the race. The time of 4:04.158 was excellent – but would it be enough to qualify fastest?

Denmark certainly had the potential to steal the crown: the team were the identical quartet to the team who won a bronze medal in the London round of the World Cup. The team rode well to ultimately cross the line in 4:04.658 – a time which put them in third position so far, behind Germany and Rusvelo.

The New Zealand team were off next and started exceptionally well, although paid for their strong start to fade to a disappointing 4:09.726 – only enough for thirteenth place. All eyes then centred on the new Great Britain squad: an entirely new line-up consisting of academy talent. Whilst not expected to win, the team demonstrated that they have plenty of future potential. The team got off to an excellent start, led by nineteen year old Germain Burton who, despite his young years, already has significant team pursuit credentials to his name, including a fourth place in the 2013 Junior Track Cycling World Championships. A solid performance throughout led to them crossing the line in an excellent 4:06.937 – enough to see them through to the next round.

However, if Great Britain’s development squad were enough to send ripples through the world of track cycling, the Australian team showed that they have the potential to ruffle even more feathers. An entirely fresh line-up of Scott Law, Joshua Harrison, Jackson Law and Tirian McManus lined up at the start for the Australian team. Whilst the team might be new, their experience certainly not: Scott Law already has a silver medal from the omnium in London round of the World Cup, and his brother Jackson was recently crowned national Madison champion. McManus already has two omnium World Cup gold medals to his name, and Harrison is reigning junior team pursuit champion. The team rode a textbook race for the first three kilometres. Despite a slight fade in the closing kilometre, a fast closing lap meant they were able to cross the line in the fastest time of the night: 4:04.106.

The final result saw the first four teams – Australia, Germany, Rusvelo and Denmark – finishing within half a second of each other, hinting at an exciting competition to come.

Men’s Team Pursuit Qualifying

1 Australia (Scott LAW, Joshua HARRISON, Jackson LAW, Tirian MCMANUS) 4:04.106
2 Germany (Henning BOMMEL, Theo REINHARDT, Kersten THIELE, Domenic WEINSTEIN) 4:04.158
3 Rusvelo (Artur ERSHOV, Alexander EVTUSHENKO, Alexey KURBATOV, Alexander SEROV) 4:04.405
4 Denmark (Casper PEDERSEN, Anders HOLM, Rasmus Christian QUAADE, Casper VON FOLACH) 4:04.658
5 Belgium 4:06.272
6 Spain 4:06.775
7 Great Britain 4:06.937
8 Russia 4:07.266
9 Netherlands 4:07.580
10 Belarus 4:08.239

Women’s Team Sprint

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 The women’s team sprint qualifying was next on the programme, and the eighteen teams were contesting to go through to a straight final: the fastest two riding for gold, and third and fourth fastest riding for bronze. None of the teams could therefore afford to hang back in the heats.

The nervousness was palpable from the first heat, with Hong Kong, off first, recording a false start and forcing a restart. The pairing of Zhao Juan Meng and Xiao Juan Diao ultimately set the bar at 36.367 for the two lap race.

It was Canada who were the first to break the 35 second barrier in the third heat. Kate O’Brien and Monique Sullivan clocked 34.432 in the third heat with Korea immediately challenging this in the following heat with a time of 34.382.

New Zealand, off in heat nine, had not made an impression in previous rounds of the world cup. However, Natasha Hansen was replaced Stephanie McKenzie for this third round. McKenzie, who is reigning national keirin and national team sprint champion, demonstrated her credentials to full effect to hurtle around the track with Katie Schofield to clock a fast 33.602. Despite the fast time, it was clear the team would be unable to sit on their laurels: the veritable Dutch pairing of Elis Ligtlee and Shanne Braspennincx in the following heat were able to better the Kiwis by a third of a second, clocking 33.351 with an exceptional 14.340 opening lap.

The familiar Spanish pair of Tania Calvo Barbero and Helena Casas Roige, off in the twelfth heat, shifted the New Zealand pairing down to third spot. The French and Australians, despite posting 33 second times in the 13th and 14th heats, were unable to challenge for one of the places in the final.

The British team, off fourth from last, saw Katy Marchant getting her first taste of World Cup competition this season. Paired with Jessica Varnish, the pair clocked a fast time of 33.627 – enough for fourth place so far but, with three rounds remaining, was it fast enough for a place in the gold medal final? Heartbreakingly for the duo, the Russian team immediately unseated them to fifth spot in the following heat, with Daria Shmeleva and Ekaterina Gnidenko hurtling around the track to post the fastest time of the night: their time of 33.128 some quarter of a second faster than the Netherlands.

Germany and China were unable to threaten the top of the leaderboard, with Russia and the Netherlands qualifying for the gold medal final, and Spain and New Zealand going forward to ride for bronze.

Women’s Team Sprint Qualifying

1 Russia (Daria SHMELEVA, Ekaterina GNIDENKO) 33.128
2 Netherlands (Elis LIGTLEE, Shanne BRASPENNINCX) 33.351
3 Spain (Tania CALVO BARBERO, Helena CASAS ROIGE) 33.429
4 New Zealand (Katie SCHOFIELD, Natasha HANSEN) 33.601
5 Great Britain 33.627
6 France 33.743
7 Australia 33.831
8 Cuba 34.371
9 Korea 34.382
10 Canada 34.432

Men’s Team Sprint

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The men were up next, and eighteen teams were set to contest for the four spots in the final. The heats did not start well, with Trindad and Tobago disqualified for an incorrect change. It was Argentina, off in the second heat, who set the bar at 45.653 for the three lap race.

Canada and Spain were both able to break the 45 second barrier in the third and fifth heats respectively, but it was the Japanese trio of Kazuki Amagai, Kazunari Watanabe and Seiichiro Nakagawa who were the first team to break through 44.5, clocking 44.416. The team were the same team who had failed to make an impression in previous rounds, but demonstrated that a season of riding together was enough to see them make significant improvement.

Poland were the next surprise. The trio only had one familiar face in their squad, Damian Zielinski, but the team showed that their new line-up is the one that should perhaps go forward to future competitions, their time of 44.340 knocking the Japanese from top spot with just seven heats remaining.

A mistake by the Australians which saw them drop their first man in the first lap meant they limped across the line in 48.120, with all eyes on the Dutch team which had Jeffrey Hoogland joining the familiar duo Hugo Haak and Matthijs Buchli for the Cali round. The Dutch rode an exceptionally strong race, clocking a 13.112 final lap to cross the line in 43.613 – nearly a second faster than Poland who had been in the top spot.

The French were up in the next heat, led by Gregory Bauge who was joined by the ambitious Francois Pervis and Quentin Lafargue. However, a very fast opening two laps could only be backed up by 13.933 final lap which saw them fade to a final time of 44.090. The revised British squad of Matt Crampton, Lewis Oliva and Jonny Biggin were up next. Despite their best efforts, the team were only able to set the sixth fastest time of 44.574.

The Germans were off last, and the mix of experience and youth had the potential to unseat the Dutch, and a 17.341 opening lap put them in contention. However, although recording a time of 43.892 – good enough for a place in the gold medal final – the team were relegated due to a mistake in the changeover.

The Netherlands will be joined by France for the gold medal final, with Poland and Japan set for an exciting bronze medal ride-off. However, it should be noted that the Netherlands – despite their fast qualifying time, only clocked the second fastest lap. And who was it who rode the fastest? The Colombians, of course! The raucous home support rocketing the team to clock a 13.112 final lap – a whole 0.2 of a second faster than the Dutch.

Men’s Team Sprint Qualifying

1 Netherlands (Jeffrey HOOGLAND, Hugo haak, Matthijs BUCHLI) 43.613
2 France (Gregory BAUGE, Francois PERVIS, Quentin LAFARGUE) 44.090
3 Poland (Grzegorz DREJGIER, Damian ZIELINSKI, Kamil KUCZYNSKI) 44.340
4 Japan (Kazuki AMAGAI, Kazunari WATANABI, Seiichiro NAKAGAWA) 44.416
5 Venezuela 44.487
6 Great Britain 44.574
7
Russia 44.636

8 Korea 44.745
9 New Zealand 44.750
10 Spain 44.786

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