Athens 2004  - Track Events

Saturday 21st August 2004


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What an evening of pursuitng! The Athens Velodrome continued to provide drama and records as the greatest pursuiters in the world vied against each other to qualify and then to book their places in the ride-offs for the medals. The World Record, set by Sarah Ulmer in May was broken by Kate Mactier (Australia) and, in response, by Ulmer herself. 

Qualifying Round

The qualifying round was simply a test against the clock - the fastest 8 of 12 starters to go through to the first round. What a round it was.... Of the World Record performances, Mactier was up against Leontien Zijlaard van Moorsel first. 

Whilst  van Moorsel started slowly, Maciter rode a stunning 3000m to break the World Record which had only been set in May at the World's in Melbourne. Mactier's time was 3:29:945 - making her the first woman to beat 3minutes 30 seconds. van Morsel's time in that heat was 3:30.422 - enough in itself to beat Ulmer's May record of 3:30:604. There were some signs that Mactier may not yet have solved her problem of starting too fast and fading towards the end, as van Moorsel was clawing back on the gap opened in the early stages with each lap in the last kilometre.

Next up was Sarah Ulmer against Russia's Olga Slyusareva (who took bronze last Sunday in the women's road race. In an exciting ride, Ulmer nearly caught Slyusareva, who rode a respectable 3:35.177, to smash Mactier's World Record, which stood for just five minutes, by over 3 1.2seconds to set the new World Record at 3:26.400 

There was other good news for Australia, as Kate Bates took on Britain's Emma Davies and qualified fourth fastest with a time of 3:31.236. Davies recorded 3:35.069. Both went through to the first round. Other qualifiers were : Elana Chalykh (Rus), Karin Theurig (SUI) and Olga Slyusereva (Rus).

First Round

Unlike qualifying, where times mattered this round was about beating the rider at the other side of the track. Having determined the order of rides and opponents via qualifying times, the competitors now were focussed only upon one ting - pursuiting their opponent. Fastest qualifier, Ulmer was up against slowest qualifier, 


The first round was scheduled just one hour after the qualifying round, so there was on expectation that records would fall again. Also, since this was now 'just' a pursuit, the stronger riders could afford to reduce their effort slightly and bring in the win without giving their all. However, times would still matter for the round's winners in the selection for the gold - silver ride-off and the bronze ride-off, so they could not completely relax.


In the first heat, Kate Bates beat Elana Chalkyh with a time of 3:34.743. in the second heat, van Moorsel easily took the honours with a fast ride under the May record with 3:28.747. Mactier also went faster in her heat, against Emma Davies by recording a new personal best of 3:28.095. Whilst in the last heat, Ulmer slowed slightly to beat Slyusareva in 3:27.444. 


Ulmer was the fastest winner in Round 1 and will meet Kate Mactier in the gold - silver ride-off, whilst van Moorsel takes on Kate Bates for the bronze. 


Ride off times are Sunday 22nd at 17:40hrs, Athens time.


The Individual Pursuit is perhaps the purest race on the track - riders compete against the clock themselves and each other to gain victory.

This is the race where riders start at opposite side of the track and race for the fastest times. If they manage to catch their opponent, unless of course, it is one of the medal finals, the riders continue so that they can post their best possible time for that heat. 

Track bikes with aerodynamic bars, disc wheels and, typically teardrop shaped, helmets are the order of the day. To shave even more time from their performances and to cut through the air even more smoothly, the riders will wear long-sleeved cycling skinsuits and will have lycra overshoes to smooth the flow of air over their feet. 

The races today, Saturday, are the qualifying heats and the first round "proper" a couple of hours later. In the heats, pairs of riders will chase / pursue each other around the track looking for the lowest times. The fastest eight go through. Even if a rider is beaten, she may still qualify thanks to her ride time. 

Favourites for this race must be defending Champion, Leontien Zijlaard van Moorsel and current World Record Holder and World Champion Sarah "I'm fizzing mate" Ulmer. Australia's Kate Mactier is only in her second season on the track and as a pursuiter and should figure in the medals. She took silver in Melbourne but showed that she still has work to do on her technique. She is known for starting fast and fading towards the end - if she has successfully worked on this in the past three months, she could be a force to be reckoned with. 

World Record - Sarah Ulmer (NZ) 2004 - 03:30.60

Olympic Record - Leontien Zijlaard van Moorsel (NED) 2000 - 03:30.80

Start List for Qualifying Heat

Heat Race Number Name Nation
1 11 Lenka VALOVA  CZE
  12 Evelyn GARCIA  ESA
3 1 Katherine BATES  AUS
  15 Emma DAVIES  GBR
4 31 Elena CHALYKH  RUS
  34 Karin THUERIG  SUI
5 2 Katie MACTIER  AUS
  28  Leontien ZIJLAARD-van MOORSEL  NED
6 29 Sarah ULMER  NZL


Results   from Athens2004.com


Rank Name Nation 1000m 2000m 3000m Speed
1000m-200m 200mm-3000m
 Sarah ULMER  NZL 1:12.821  (3) 2:19.723  (2)
52.325  WR
1:06.902  (1)
1:06.677  (1)
2 Katie MACTIER  AUS 1:10.681  (1) 2:19.138  (1)
1:08.457  (3)
1:10.807  (5)
3 Leontien ZIJLAARD-van MOORSEL  NED 1:13.455  (4) 2:21.643  (4)
1:08.188  (2)
1:08.779  (2)
4 Katherine BATES  AUS 1:12.491  (2) 2:21.431  (3)
1:08.940  (5)
1:09.805  (3)
5 Elena CHALYKH  RUS 1:14.017  (6) 2:22.828  (5)
1:08.811  (4) 1:10.881 (6)
6 Karin THUERIG  SUI 1:14.905  (9) 2:24.103  (9) 3:34.746  50.291
1:09.198  (6) 1:10.643  (4)
7 Emma DAVIES  GBR 1:14.017  (5) 2:23.618  (6) 3:35.069  50.216
1:09.601  (8) 1:11.451  (8)
8 Olga SLYUSAREVA  RUS 1:14.269  (8) 2:23.928  (8) 3:35.177  50.191
1:09.659  (9) 1:11.249  (7)
9 Maria Luisa CALLE WILLIAMS 1:14.231  (7) 2:23.923  (7) 3:35.430  50.132
 COL 1:09.692  (10) 1:11.507  (9)
10 Erin MIRABELLA  USA 1:15.172  (10) 2:24.727  (10) 3:36.992  49.771
1:09.555  (7) 1:12.265  (10)
11 Lenka VALOVA  CZE 1:15.673  (11) 2:33.992  (11) 3:54.372  46.08
1:18.319  (12) 1:20.380  (12)
12 Evelyn GARCIA  ESA 1:18.587  (12) 2:36.167  (12) 3:56.055  45.752
1:17.580  (11) 1:19.888  (11)

Round 1

Heat Result Name Nation 1000m 2000m 3000m Speed
1000m - 2000m 2000m-3000m
1 1 Katherine BATES  AUS 1:12.809  (1) 2:22.501  (1) 3:34.743  50.292
1:09.692  (1) 1:12.242  (1)
  2 Elena CHALYKH 1:13.719  (2) 2:23.941  (2) 03:36.40 49.897
 RUS 1:10.222  (2) 1:12.501  (2)
2 1 Leontien ZIJLAARD-van MOORSEL 1:12.943  (1) 2:20.343  (1) 3:28.747  51.737
 NED 1:07.400  (1) 1:08.404  (1)
  2 Karin THUERIG  1:13.358  (2) 2:23.306  (2) 03:34.80 50.272
 SUI 1:09.948  (2) 1:11.525  (2)
3 1 Katie MACTIER 1:10.660  (1) 2:18.977  (1) 3:28.095  51.899
 AUS 1:08.317  (1) 1:09.118  (1)
  2 Emma DAVIES  1:14.280  (2) 2:25.859  (2) 03:38.00  
 GBR 1:11.579  (2) 1:12.156  (2)
4 1 Sarah ULMER 1:12.785  (1) 2:19.410  (1) 3:27.444  52.062
 NZL 1:06.625  (1) 1:08.034  (1)
  2 Olga SLYUSAREVA 1:13.605  (2) 2:24.615  (2) 03:36.30 49.939
 RUS 1:11.010  (2) 1:11.648  (2)


Post Race Quotes 

Leontien Zijlaard van Moorsel was a little disapointed to be riding against Kate Bates for bronze, saying that "It will be my last race and I will give it my all. It's a pity my opponent is Katherine BATES (AUS). I know her really well, she is friend of mine". van Moorsel will be retiring at the end of the season and so this is her last ride at international level, There is no way she will want to go home empty-handed from the track, having said on many occasions leading up to Athens that she wanted to take home the gold in the pursuit. However, as she pointed out, her preparation was broader than that of Ulmer and Mactier -  "I was a bit tired because the Individual Road Time Trial was just three days ago. The other two girls who have qualified for the final were only focused on this event."

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