November 30th - December 4th
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Track Day 1
There were three events on the schedule on day 1 of the track. They were :
500m TT - finals
2km Individual Pursuit - qualifications
20km Points Race
Although the sun shone, the wind was bitterly cold and it was strong. The shadows did not take long to lengthen and once the sun set, the evening grew damper and cooler, although the wind did drop for the 500m TT, rising again for the 20km Points Race.
Qualifying for the pursuit involved 4 heats to find the fastest 4 riders to go through to the finals on Thursday night. The countries which are emerging as the 'big 3' in the cycling so far provided the finalists, Bianca Rodgers (Aus), Jo Tindley (Eng), Paddy Walker (NZ) and Amy Hunt (Eng).
Following what has become a great Australian tradition, Jennifer Loutit took the gold medal with the only ride under 40 seconds on this cool and breezy evening.
There was drama for Malaysian, Ruszatul Zanariah MD Yusof, when she pulled her left foot in her starting effort. She was awarded a restart and took to the track again immediately. However, this was not to be her night - she pulled her right foot on the second run and although she finished, there was no way she was ever going to be competitive.
Speaking to WomensCycling.net, Loutit agreed that she was indeed following a great Australian 500m tradition, but preferred not to be compared with Anna Meares (World and Olympic Champion and world record holder). "Anna Meares - she's awesome" was her reply. "I've always ridden the 500m and the sprints", she said - "the shorter the better really"........ When asked about the weather conditions and her tactics for the night, Loutit said that "I didn't know how the conditions would affect things tonight and I don't really know anything about my competitors, so it was good to do so well."
20 km Points Race
This event was dominated by the Australians, although Malaysian Uracca Leow Hoay Sim was on the shoulder of victor Amanda Spratt for much of the race and managed to follow her into the medals too. Silver medallist, Skye-Lee Armstrong had a varied race - looking slow and unable to stay in the group for the first couple of sprints, she found her legs and was a major factor in the final sprints. The English and 'Kiwi' riders were also active throughout the race, working hard in the sprints and between them too. Early on, the Kiwis set up some textbook attacks - first Kathryn Jones gained a sizeable gap, then when she was pulled back, Paddy Walker tried her legs. She was pulled back by the pack, led by Magdalene Nicholson (RSA). Jo Tindley (Eng) made some efforts to gain time, but with sprints every 4 laps, noone was in any mood to let their competitors slip away.
Amanda Spratt rode well and was consistently a contender in the sprints. Sky-Lee Armstrong, once she had found her legs was also a 'player' - testing legs and lungs. The other Australian, Bianca Rodgers worked hard for her team-mates and was warned early on in the race for deliberately pulling off her line to block other riders whilst Spratt went through for points on a sprint.
The race was exciting, but hard, given the unseasonally cool air temperatures and strong headwind in the finishing straight.
After the racing, Sky-Lee Armstrong, who took a medal in the recent Junior World Championships (Los Angeles), in the Keirin, told WomensCycling.net that "at the beginning of the race, after the first sprint, I didn't feel too well. I flew in yesterday from overseas and I didn't have the legs, so I was happy to follow Amanda's wheel. To win the last full sprint felt really good, just to recover. I thought I was going to pull out of the race when I was out of the back after the first sprint, but I recovered - that's racing!" Clearly very cold after her efforts, she admitted that "it had a big impact on me - I've just come back form overseas - 31'C every day, to this is a big change. I am suffering a bit with the cold"
A quick word with Amanda Spratt confirmed the cold had affected everyone. In fact Bendigo has been very warm for the past week at least, so it was a shock to all. This was Spratt's second medal of the Games and she told WomensCycling.net that "I am definitely very pleased with my second gold. I know I I've to thank my team-mates for - they really were there helping each other out and I think to get one-two shows the way we work as a team. I'm really happy for Sky-Lee to get the silver as well. Its a great result for Australia."
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