The 2015 UCI World Track Cycling Championships kicked off today at the new French National Velodrome at Saint Quentin en Yvelines on the outskirts of Paris with qualification for the Men’s and Women’s Team Pursuit. Great Britain were exepected to dominate the Women’s session and Australia the Men’s but not everything went according to plan…
Women’s Team Pursuit Qualifying
The Women’s team pursuit qualifying kicked off events at the French National Velodrome in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Paris. There were high hopes for the British quartet of Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell, Elinor Barker and Katie Archibald who will be looking to win their fifth world championship having last been defeated in Ballerup in 2010. Whilst the team were undoubtedly the favourites – and would be going off last – the Australian squad had broken the Australian National Record the previous week with a time of 4:20.999; just four seconds away from the altitude assisted world record, held by the British, of 4:16.552.
As host nation, the French team were first on the track and set a fair marker of 4:37.808. At the halfway point in the competition with the lowest ranked eight teams ridden, Italy had the best time of 4:32.198. However, with the eight fastest teams still yet to ride, it would seem unlikely that the Italians would clench the fastest time.
The first team to set a sub-4:30 time were the strong Kiwi squad who set the bar high with a time of 4:25.406. The USA squad of Sarah Hammer, Jennifer Valente, Lauren Tamayo and Ruth Winder looked to be the first squad who would steal the lead from New Zealand, but after three strong kilometres, the team fell apart in the fourth and were only able to post a time of 3:28.302.
Canada were the first team who were expected to trouble the New Zealanders, and they stepped up to the mark in style. The quartet of Allison Beveridge, Jasmin Glaesser, Kirsti Lay and Stephanie Roorda demonstrating why the Canadians were the reigning World Cup team pursuit champions by riding an impressive display of pursuiting to cross the line in 4:20.699 – a faster time than the Australian national record of the previous week.
Untroubled by the Canadians, however, the Australian team of Annette Edmondson, Ashlee Ankudinoff, Amy Cure and Melissa Hoskins rode a blistering time of 4:18.135 – enough to once again rewrite their national record books and question just how long the world mark would last at the Championships.
As reigning World champions, the British team rode last. A steady first two kilometres saw them marginally behind both Australia and Canada at halfway, but the strength of the squad meant they took over half a second out of Canada in the third kilometre. There was much rejoicing in the British camp after the team were initially awarded a time of 4:18.130 – five-thousandths of a second quicker than the Australians. However, heartbreakingly for the British quartet their time was revised to 4:18.207 – putting them behind the Australians to qualify in second place.
Women’s Team Pursuit Qualifying Results (Qualifying Teams)
1 Australia (Annette EDMONDSON, Ashlee ANKUDINOFF, Amy CURE, Melissa HOSKINS) 4:18.135
2 Great Britain (Katie ARCHIBALD, Laura TROTT, Elinor BARKER, Joanna ROWSELL) 4:18.207
3 Canada (Allison BEVERDIDGE, Jasmin GLAESSER, Kirsti LAY, Stephanie ROORDA) 4:25.50
4 New Zealand (Lauren ELLIS, Rushlee BUCHANAN, Jaime NIELSEN, Georgia Amy WILLIAMS) 4:25.406
5 China (Dongyan HUANG, Wenwen JIANG, Yali JING, Baofang ZHAO) 4:27.645
6 United States (Sarah HAMMER, Jennifer VALENTE, Lauren TAMAYO, Ruth WINDER) 4:28.302
7 Germany (Charlotte BECKER, Stephanie POUL, Mieke KROEGER, Gudrun STOCK) 4:31.078
8 Italy (Simona FRAPPORTI, Beatrice BARTELLONi, Tatiana GUDERZO, Silvia VALSECCHI) 4:32.198
Men’s Team Pursuit Qualifying
The men’s teams were up next for the team pursuit qualifying and, after the fast times posted by the women’s teams, hopes were high for some fast times being posted. The British team would undoubtedly be willing to avoid a repeat of the previous year’s world championships when they finished a disappointing eighth. The team has since seen a reversal in fortunes with the arrival of German coach, Heiko Salzwedel, and Great Britain were recently crowned team pursuit champions at the UCI Track World Cup series, winning the London round of the event. However, with an on-form New Zealand team and an Australian quartet who will be itching to win their fifth world title in six years. Furthermore, the addition of Jack Bobridge, who recently failed in his attempt to claim the world hour record but clearly demonstrated he has not lost his track skill, should provide an additional boost to the quartet.
Much to the delight of the home crowd, it was the French who set the fastest time amongst the first five contenders of Italy, France, Belgium, Belarus and Argentina. However, with hopes high for multiple sub-4 minute rides, their time of 4:00.783 would not provide assurity for qualification through to the next round.
The Dutch squad were the first to ride sub-4 minutes and, despite a relatively steady first kilometre, the team clawed back milliseconds in the following laps to squeeze under 4 minutes by half a second (3:59.520). The Germans and Swiss, who had put in some impressive rides in the World Cup, managed to better the Dutch with times of 3:58.861 and 3:58.887 respectively, and all eyes were now on New Zealand, British, Danish and Australian teams who remained.
The Kiwis duly stepped up to the mark: the quartet, consisting of Pieter B
ulling, Dylan Kennett, Alex Frame and Marc Ryan, rode an exceptionally ordered race to cross the line in a fast 3:56.421. Great Britain’s Andy Tennant, Ed Clancy, Owain Doull and Steven Burke – who unbelievably broke his collarbone in an accident just a month ago – could not quite match the strong New Zealand team and crossed the line in 3:57.716.
The Danish squad were up second from last, and the Danes have had mixed fortunes over the course of the Track World Cup; glimpses of brilliance in some races, whilst errors in others have cost them dearly. The quartet of Casper Von Folsach, Daniel Hartvig, Anders Holm and Rasmus Christian Quaade started well with an opening kilometre of 1:04.317. However, after this point the team began to fade – and faded badly to finish in 4:03.563 which was out of the qualifying places.
As reigning world champions, the Australians lined up last. However, a chainset mechanical at the start led to one rider falling, and a restart needed. The track needed some repairs as a result which allowed the injured rider time to recouperate. After the restart, the team appeared to be on top form, clocking the fastest opening kilometre so far (1:02.961). However, whether it was the fast start or the earlier mechanical which cost them, the team started to fade after three kilometres and crossed the line in 3:58.900 – a hundredth of a second behind the Swiss and only fifth place.
The home crowd could be happy that the French team managed to grab the final qualifying spot.
Men’s Team Pursuit Qualifying Results (Qualifying Teams)
1 New Zealand (Pieter BULLING, Dylan KENNETT, Alex FRAME, Marc RYAN) 3:56.421
2 Great Britain (Edward CLANCY, Steven BURKE, Owain DOULL, Andrew TENNANT) 3:57.716
3 Germany (Theo REINHARDT, Henning BOMMEL, Kersten THIELE, Domenic WEINSTEIN) 3:58.861
4 Switzerland (Oliver BEER, Stefan HuenG, Frank PASCHE, Thery SCHIR) 3:58.887
5 Australia (Jack BOBRIDGE, Luke DAVISON, Alexander EDMONDSON, Mitchell MULHERN) 3:58.900
6 Netherlands (Tim VELDT, Wim STROETINGA, Dion BEUKEBOOM, Roy EEFTING) 3:59.520
7 Russia (Artur ERSHOV, Alexander EVTUSHENJO, Alexey KURBATOV, Alexander SEROV) 3:59.817
8 France (Bryan COQUARD, Julien DUVAL, Damien GAUDIN, Julien MORICE) 4:00.783