Aussies sink Spanish armada in pursuit

Australia’s emerging pursuit talent tonight staked their claim as the riders of the future with a dominant win over Spain in the 4km team pursuit final on day two of the Mellbourne round of the 2008-09 UCI Track Cycling World Cup Classics series.
Olympians Mark Jamieson, 24, and Jack Bobridge, 19, along with reigning junior World Champions Rohan Dennis, 18, and Luke Durbridge, 17 were the clear favourites after a strong qualifying round and they lived up to the expectation.
The Australians were fastest out of the gate and never looked in doubt as they increased their lead at every mark. With their rivals Unai Elorriaga Zubiaur, David Muntaner Juaneda, Toni Tauler Llull and Eloy Teruel Rovira in their sights in the same straight it was a matter of when and not if they would overtake the Spaniards. Just after the 3km mark they caught their prey to win the race.
“It’s Luke’s and Rohan’s first international (senior) competition and we are already riding low 4.03’s,” said Jamieson. “We are always improving and moving forward and getting stronger and faster.”
Bobridge, who took his second gold medal of the meet after his win in the individual pursuit last night, was surprised by the team’s pace.
“To have the younger guys ride the time they did was awesome and to come out and be on pace for a 4.01, was fantastic,” said Bobridge.
The Ukranian quartet of Roman Kononenko, Sergiy Lagkuti, Lyubomyr Polatayko and Vitaliy Shehedov (4:09.976) defeated New Zealand’s Jason Allen, Shane Archbold, Darren Shea and Thomas Scully (4:11.075) to take the bronze medal.
Team Toshiba’s Scott Sunderland rode a personal best time to take silver in the men’s kilometre time trial.
Sunderland, who won gold last night in the men’s team sprint, recorded a time of 1:02.492, just over two tenths of a second slower than 2008 World Championship silver medallist Michael D’Almeida of France (1:02.238).
“I am very happy with second, I went out there rode a PB and I wasn’t exactly feeling the best I have ever felt before as at the start I felt a bit crook in the guts,” said Sunderland.
The 19 year old recently had six pins and a plate inserted in his shoulder after a track racing accident in August.
“A month off for my collar bone and two weeks off with my hamstring, so I haven’t had the ideal preparation for the event, so to do a PB, I am rapt.”
Sunderland, who has finished eighth in the past two world championship kilometre finals, has set his sights firmly on the 2009 championships.
“To do these times at the start of the season is very exciting and just coming out of injury shows I can still improve quite a lot in the lead up to worlds,” he said. “I have some unfinished business in the kilo. I just feel like I am getting better and better so I hope third time’s a charm.”
China’s Li Wen Hao claimed the bronze medal in 1:03.189.
In the women’s team sprint final Dutch pair Yvonne Hijgenaar and Willy Kanis proved too strong for Australia’s Kerrie Meares and Emily Rosemond.
In times almost identical to the afternoon’s qualifying round, the Dutch duo were recorded 34.191sec, almost four tenths of a second faster than the time of the reigning Australian champions who covered the two laps in 34.621.
Meares, who won bronze in the women’s sprint last night, was happy with her performance so early in the track season.
“I’ve done personal bests, so I’m not that disappointed,” she said. “Knowing that I have a lot to improve on for the rest of the season I’m looking forward to seeing what I can bring out within myself.
“I’m just trying to get to that fastest standing lap possible and the right preparation leading up to the World Championships,” explained Meares. “There are several very fast Australian girls and it’s going to be interesting to see which combination can bring out the best times.”
Rosemond, a former winter Olympic speed skater, was very happy with her World Cup debut.
“I am quite elated actually, it has been a fairly full on year and Kerrie and I have been training really hard for this event,” said Rosemond. “Silver was great but gold would be even better, but a silver is much more than I could have ever asked for at my first World Cup event.”
The Korean pair of Jin Gu Hyon and Won Gyeong Kim (35.788) defeated Thailand’s Watinee Luekajorn and Jutatip Manneephan (37.114) to claim the bronze medal.
In the women’s points race, Team Toshiba’s Belinda Goss clinched the bronze medal on the final sprint launching a burst of speed across the line to clinch the five points and the medal.
The Tasmanian, who claimed the bronze medal in the scratch race at this year’s World Championships, was a little off the pace early but managed to score points in three other sprints to clinch her place on the podium.
With Russia’s Evgeniya Romanyuta (16 points) and Spain’s Dorronosoro Olaberria (15 points) cementing the gold and silver medals respectively on the second last sprint, Goss was one of five riders to remain in bronze medal contention. She attacked at the start of the final lap and held on to finish with 11 points, one clear of American Rebecca Quinn.
“I was happy with tonight’s race as I wasn’t feeling that great out there so it was good to come home and get the bronze early in the season, so looking to move on up from now,” said Goss. “It just didn’t happen for me in the start of the race, so thankfully I got it together in the end.”
Of Australia’s other starters Rochelle Gilmore (HP-Teschner) finished 14th and junior rider Ashlee Ankudinoff 21st. Reigning Australian individual pursuit champion Josephine Tomic did not start the final due to a bout of flu.
In the men’s keirin, Victorian Shane Perkins finished fourth as Melbourne based Malaysian Azizulhasni Awang claimed his first World Cup victory ahead of Ukraine’s Andriy Vynokurov and Cofidis’ Francois Pervis.
In the final event of the evening, Leigh Howard (Team Toshiba) ended up with the silver medal in the men’s scratch race final even though he originally thought he had won. However Hong Long’s Ho Ting Kwok had earlier caught the field napping and gained two laps on most of the field and a lap on Howard.
New Zealand’s Jason Christie won bronze.
Despite his error, Howard was already looking towards going one better in tomorrow’s Madison.
“I was happy with my kick at the finish and I’m pretty confident for the Madison tomorrow with Glenn (O’Shea),” said Howard.
The Melbourne World Cup is the second round of the 2008-2009 UCI Track Cycling World Cup Classics series and features around 180 cyclists from 31 nations in action in 17 events over three days of racing. For more details please visit the event website www.trackworldcup.com.au Results and official start lists are available at www.tissottiming.com.

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