Cycling: Wiggins hoping madison avenue brings third gold
Saturday 29 March 2008
The gold rush goes on. Britain's run of success continued almost unabated at the world track championships here last night as Chris Hoy won the men's sprint and Rebecca Romero, Wendy Houvenaghel and Jo Rowsell claimed gold in the women's team pursuit. After three of the five days of competition the home squad have won six of the 10 gold medals on offer and are on course at least to match the seven golds they won at last year's championships.
Considering Britain's extraordinary triumphs of recent years it would be easy to become blasé about their success, but the latest two gold medals were both remarkable achievements. Although 32-year-old Hoy is a hugely experienced competitor, this was his first attempt to win the sprint event at the world championships. The women's pursuit team were even less experienced. They had never raced competitively before and had started training together only this winter.
Hoy switched to the sprint after the one kilometre time trial, in which he won gold in Athens four years ago, was removed from the Olympic schedule. In earning his 16th world championship medal here he became the first rider in history to win gold in four different disciplines.
The Scot, who also has high hopes in today's keirin, had reached the semi-finals with a thrilling victory over the hugely experienced Theo Bos on Thursday night. In yesterday's semi-finals he beat Italy's Roberto Chiappa, winning the first leg from the front and the second in the best-of-three series with a late surge.
The final was against France's Kevin Sireau, the World Cup champion. The first race was desperately close, with Hoy winning in a photo finish, but he always looked in control of the second. As Hoy accelerated past Sireau on the final bend, Dave Brailsford, British Cycling's performance director, leapt in the air in the middle of the track in celebration.
The British women's pursuit team's triumph gave Romero her second gold medal in 24 hours. The former Olympic rowing silver medallist, who took up cycling only two years ago, had won her first world championship title in the individual pursuit on Thursday night.
In the team event Britain set a world best time of 3min 25.725sec in the afternoon qualifying session – as a new event the marks are not yet recognised as official world records – and went even faster in the gold medal race. Ukraine took an early lead and were soon half a second in front, but the home team had taken the lead by the 1,000m mark and quickly extended their advantage.
Their winning time of 3min 22.415sec took more than three seconds off the mark they had set earlier in the day.
If their performance was not as smooth or as efficient as that of their gold medal-winning male counterparts, who have had hundreds more hours together on the track, the British women will certainly feel that they have plenty of scope to go even faster.
"Within the last few months we've probably done 10 training sessions," Romero said afterwards. "We've done a few sessions in the last few weeks, but we hadn't done a single race run.
"We were confident because we knew we were technically good riders and we went in straight at a good level. Wendy and I were concentrating on the individual event because it's Olympic qualifying year, so we didn't have much time to work as a team."
Romero went to bed on Thursday night with her first gold medal lying beside her. "I was exhausted," she said. "I thought I'd be completely knocked out, but as soon as I jumped into bed I started to think about what had happened and I just had a massive grin on my face. I was just buzzing and I was still awake at two in the morning, but it fuelled me for today."
The only British disappointment of the third day came in the points race. Mark Cavendish was never in contention as Vasili Kiryienka, of Belarus, held off France's Christophe Riblon for victory.
Victoria Pendleton, who linked up with Shanaze Reade to win the team sprint on Thursday night, reached today's semi-finals of the individual sprint in impressive style. The 27-year-old was in electrifying form in the afternoon session, qualifying in a personal, British and track best time of 10.904sec and then reached the last four with three emphatic victories.
The heats provided a reminder of how dangerous track racing can be when Natallia Tsylinskaya suffered a horrendous crash after appearing to make contact with the Dutch rider, Willy Kanis. The eight-times world champion from Belarus was unconscious for a while and after being given oxygen was taken off the track on a stretcher suffering from concussion and a shoulder injury.
GB's medal haul so far: 6 Gold, 1 Silver
*INDIVIDUAL PURSUIT – GOLD: Bradley Wiggins
*INDIVIDUAL PURSUIT – GOLD: Rebecca Romero
*TEAM SPRINT – GOLD: Victoria Pendleton, Shanaze Reade
*TEAM PURSUIT – GOLD: Bradley Wiggins, Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Paul Manning
*TEAM SPRINT – SILVER: Ross Edgar, Chris Hoy, Jamie Staff
*INDIVIDUAL SPRINT- GOLD: Chris Hoy
*TEAM SPRINT - SILVER - Ross Edgar, Hoy, Jamie Staff
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