Event: 4-8 April 2012
Location: Hisense Arena, Melbourne, Australia
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Reports: Phil Ingham & Simon Powers | Images: Guy Swarbrick
Great Britain enjoyed a fine opening day at the World Track Championships in Melbourne. A canny tactical ride by Ben Swift won him Scratch Race gold and the Team Pursuit quartet qualified fastest and then went on to break the world record whilst narrowly edging out Australia in the final.
There was less to celebrate for Great Britain in the Team Sprint competitions, with Jess Varnish and Victoria Pendleton missing out in the bronze medal final of the women’s competition, whilst Germany twice broke the world record on the way to gold.
In the men’s competition, Germany and GB were disqualified in qualifying for technical infringements, opening the door for Australia, who originally qualified third fastest, to pip France by the smallest of margins in the final.
MEN'S SCRATCH RACE
Ben Swift won GB’s second gold medal of the opening day with a brilliantly ridden race, characterised by moving effortlessly into promising moves and watchful marking of other moves with powerful turns on the front.
A big move mid-race looked likely to split the field for good, but it all came back together with 23 laps to go and for a few laps it all calmed down and a bunch sprint was a distinct possibility.
However,Austria’s Mueller, who had been aggressive throughout the race, then made a huge move with 7 laps to go and with the field dithering, Italy’s Viviani was the only rider to chase.
Ben Swift then pulled off the move of the race, bridging rapidly to the tiring duo ahead and then going it alone with a lap to go, just holding off the main field as they charged towards the line. The final margin was only half a bike, but it was an excellently judged late effort by Swift, who calmly summed up the last couple of lasp when he spoke after the race: "The Austrian guy was on the front so I knew that the Czech guy was on my wheel. So I had to wait, recover and hit him. I didn’t want him to come through. I just needed to do my own race and it paid off."
1 SWIFT Ben GBR
2 HOFFMAN Nolan RSA
3 STROETINGA Wim NED
4 FRAME Alex NZL
5 BLAHA Martin CZE
6 LIB Lucas GER
7 JANG Sunjae KOR
8 COLLA Angel Dario ARG
9 BERNAL ROSIQUE Pablo Aitor ESP
10 BRISSE Vivien FRA
11 BRAVO Edison CHI
12 MARVULLI Franco SUI
13 GATSKIY Pavel KAZ
14 MUELLER Andreas AUT
15 SAVITSKY Ivan RUS
16 EDMONDSON Alexander AUS
17 SALLEH Hariff MAS
18 LISOUSKI Aliaksandr BLR
19 DE PAUW Moreno BEL
20 LEA Bobby USA
21 VIVIANI Elia ITA
MEN'S TEAM PURSUIT
Earlier, GB won one of the closest and most exciting Team Pursuit finals of all time to take the gold medal from Australia with a new world record of 3.53.295 (the old mark was 3:53.314), just over a tenth of a second clear of their rivals' 3.53.401.
GB went off much quicker than in qualifying and soon forged a lead as the Australians also went off slightly quicker. After the first kilometre GB led by over 3 tenths of a second, but the Aussies then got into their stride and the teams were absolutely together at the two kilometre mark after the home team went under 56 seconds for their second kilo.
Big turns by Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh re-established GB’s lead in the third quarter of the race and with just 3 laps to go they seemed to have it won with a 0.7 second margin. However, Australia fought back yet again and were closing throughout the final couple of laps and, with both teams looking ragged and down to three men, it was only as Ed Clancy crossed the line in third place that GB knew for certain that they had the gold medal.
Clancy had earlier done a huge opening turn of almost 2 laps and it came as no surprise to see him hanging on grimly in the final few metres. A breathless Chris Boardman speaking on the BBC said “Both teams were on the limit, cracks appearing right, left and centre. But GB just held it together!”
Analysis - we look at how the times of GB and Australia stack up against each other and how consistency probably won the day for GB - Day 1 Analysis
Interview: Ed Clancy on the win
In the ride off for bronze, Russia moved into a strong position mid race, almost 1.4 seconds clear, but the New Zealanders came back at them snatching the bronze in the final kilometre after a well-judged ride, recording an impressive 3.57.592.
Speaking after the final, Ed Clancy said: “It’s good news for us – even if we’d lost today we’d still have been happy with the progress we have made. That record’s been around long enough. This is a good place to take it down. We’ve just had a little debrief and I didn’t realise it was so close between us and the Australian team.”
1 GBR Great Britain 3:53.295 (CLANCY Edward, BURKE Steven, KENNAUGH Peter, THOMAS Geraint)
2 AUS Australia 3:53.401 (O'SHEA Glenn, BOBRIDGE Jack, DENNIS Rohan, HEPBURN Michael)
3 NZL New Zealand 3:57.592
4 RUS Russia 3:59.237 60.191
Earlier, Great Britain qualified fastest going through to the evening's gold medal final against Australia, with the bronze medal final to be contested by New Zealand and Russia.
New Zealand was the first team to record the first sub-four minute time with 3:59.156.
The GB quartet of Ed Clancy, Peter Kennaugh, Andy Tennant and Geraint Thomas then put down a really strong time of 3:54.485, just over a second outside their Beijing world record of 3:53.314. The Russians could not match this and went third behind New Zealand.
Last up, Australia, the favourites, then went out and started at world record pace, before slowing in the final kilometre to record 3:54.654, putting them in the final against Great Britain. Great Britain's time is the fastest ever recorded on Australian soil and the third fastest ever and sets up a mouth-watering final. GB brought in Steven Burke for Andy Tennant for the final ride.
Men's Team Pursuit Qualification
1 GBR Great Britain 3:54.485
2 AUS Australia 3:54.654
3 NZL New Zealand 3:59.156
4 RUS Russia 3:59.290
5 ESP Spain 4:01.717
6 BEL Belgium 4:02.317
7 DEN Denmark 4:03.237
8 NED Netherlands 4:04.489
9 GER Germany 4:05.078
10 KOR Korea 4:06.970
11 SUI Switzerland 4:09.200
12 CHI Chile 4:10.249
13 UKR Ukraine 4:10.943
14 HKG Hong Kong 4:11.886
15 KAZ Kazakhstan 4:13.145
MEN'S TEAM SPRINT
The Australian team took full advantage of the absence of the disqualified Germans to win the men’s Team Sprint final. Originally seeded to line up for the bronze medal final against Great Britain, they grabbed hold of their unexpected opportunity to claim gold with an inspirational team effort.
Gregory Bauge gave the French a fine start with an opening lap of 17.405, a lead of 17 hundredths of a second. The French still had five hundredths of a second lead with a lap to go, but the Aussies' third rider Matthew Glaetzer brought it back to win by the narrowest of margins, one thousandth of a second. At the speeds the riders are holding over that final lap, that equates to about 2cm.
It was popular end to the opening day for the home crowd. Meanwhile, in the bronze medal final, New Zealand beat Japan.
1. AUS Australia 43.266 (PERKINS Shane, SUNDERLAND Scott, GLAETZER Matthew)
2 FRA France 43.267 (BAUGE Gregory, SIREAU Kevin, D'ALMEIDA Michael)
3 NZL New Zealand 43.812
4 JPN Japan 43.896
Earlier, in qualifying, it looked as though France and Germany would face off for the gold medal in the final of the Men’s Team Sprint. However, after a considerable delay, an announcement came through that both Germany and Great Britain had been relegated due to technical infringements during their rides. That left France and Australia to contest the gold medal final and Japan and New Zealand the bronze final.
The first sub-43 second ride came from France who benefitted from a typically rapid 17.367s opening lap from Gregory Bauge going on to record 43.247s (a new French record). And, despite another awesome opening lap from Enders, Germany were only second fastest, their time being 43.349s.
For GB there was an impressive first ride at this level by young Philip Hindes, who had the composure to halt the first attempt to start the race when his wheel came out of the start gate. He then went on to record a big p.b of 17.510s for the opening lap, fully justifying his selection. GB finished fourth fastest with 43.533 and looked set to face third fastest Australia in the bronze final. Then the news of the relegation came through.
As Chris Hoy explains in the interview below, the team's disqualifiction came about because of the timing of the hand-over between Philip Hindes and Jason Kenny at the end of the opening lap.
Chris Hoy on that disqualification and on Philip Hindes
The official UCI reason for the relegations (USA and Greece were also relegated) was "For drawing away by more than 15 meters before the end of the lap that he is to lead Art. 3.2.153"
1 FRA France 43.247
2 AUS Australia 43.512
3 NZL New Zealand 43.742
4 JPN Japan 44.039
5 CHN China 44.049
6 RUS Russia 44.215
7 NED Netherlands 44.282
8 VEN Venezuela 44.399
9 POL Poland 44.819
10 CZE Czech Republic 45.179
11 CAN Canada 45.192
12 MAS Malaysia 45.529
14 GER Germany REL
15 GBR Great Britain REL
16 USA United States REL
17 GRE Greece REL
WOMEN'S TEAM SPRINT
The gold medal final of the Women's Team Sprint was a classic with Germany's Miriam Welte and Kristinathen Vogel winning despite training by a couple of tenths of a second after a rapid opening lap of 18.415 from Australia’s Anna Meares. Germany kept it smooth, though, and turned it round to finish in their second world record time of the day, 32.549s. Australia’s silver medal time of 32.597 was also inside Germany’s first world record of the day.
In the bronze medal final, Jess Varnish was not quite able to repeat her London form and left Victoria Pendleton just too much to do on the second lap, with China winning the medal with 32.870 to GB’s 33.160.
Analysis - we look at how the GB duo performed compared to their world record ride in London and how Vogel and Meares are the driving forces of German and Australian success in this event - Day 1 Analysis
1. GER Germany 32.549 (WELTE Miriam & VOGEL Kristina)
2. AUS Australia 32.597
3. CHN China 32.870
4. GBR Great Britain 33.160 (VARNISH Jessica & PENDLETON Victoria)
Earlier, women's Team Sprint qualifying saw Germany's Miriam Welte and Kristinathen Vogel break the world record for the first time on the way to the final against Australia.
The Aussies also went inside the mark set by GB’s Jess Varnish and Victoria Pendleton at the recent London World Cup. Germany’s time of 32.630 was over a tenth of a second inside that old mark of 32.754.
The GB duo couldn’t quite match their record-breaking London effort, and recorded the fourth fastest time of 32.941s to go into the ride-off for bronze against China who clocked 32.937. Reflecting on the ride by Germany, Chris Boardman on the BBC observed: "[they] almost look pedestrian they are so smooth."
1 GER Germany 32.630
2 AUS Australia 32.752
3 CHN China 32.937
4 GBR Great Britain 32.941
5 FRA France 33.355
6 RUS Russia 33.440
7 NED Netherlands 33.571
8 UKR Ukraine 33.639
9 ESP Spain 34.276
10 NZL New Zealand 34.278
11 VEN Venezuela 34.335
12 COL Colombia 35.025
13 KOR Korea 35.128
14 JPN Japan 35.301
15 HKG Hong Kong 36.631
16 LTU Lithuania REL