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Los Angeles World Cup Track 2006 / 2007
Americans and Australians dominant
Los Angeles, California, January 2007
Compiled from USA Cycling / Cycling Australia media releases
Los Angeles provided the venue for the third round of the Track World Cup Classics series for 2007 / 2007. WomensCycling.net brought you coverage of Sydney (Round 1) in November 2006. The second round was in Moscow in December 2006, unfortunately, we were unable to provide coverage from the Russian capital. There are four events in the Track World Cup Classics series. The final round will be in Manchester in February, just a few weeks prior to the World Track Championships which will take place in Palma, on the Spanish island of Majorca at the end of March / beginning of April in a newly built velodrome.
Reigning women's individual pursuit World Champion Sarah Hammer (Ouch Pro Cycling) further illustrated her reputation as one of the world's top endurance track cyclists Friday with a victory in the women's points race on the opening night of the UCI World Cup in Los Angeles.
The Southern California resident edged Yoanka Gonzalez Perez of Cuba by virtue of a final-sprint tiebreaker to earn a gold medal in the first of three events in which she was scheduled to compete on over the weekend. Hammer and Perez each scored 13 points in the 20-kilometer event, but Hammer was declared the winner after placing ahead of Perez in the last of eight sprints - the primary decider in the case of a common point total.
A year ago, Hammer earned a pair of gold medals in the individual pursuit and scratch race at the World Cup race in L.A. - a feat she hoped to surpass this year with both the points race and the pursuit still on the agenda.
Clearly the strongest rider in the field, Hammer rode aggressively throughout the race as she closed gaps, rode at the front and took a chance in chasing down a pair of riders to claim what turned out to be the winning points late in the race.
Hammer began accumulating points on the third of eight intermediate sprints when a second-place effort earned her three points. On the ensuing sprint 10 laps later, she notched five more as the first rider across the line. As she carried a total of eight points into the penultimate sprint, Hammer was at a five-point disadvantage to Perez before she attacked the field in pursuit of a small breakaway. That gamble proved to be the decisive move after she scored an additional five points with ten laps to go. Tied with Perez, and with German Charlotte Becker still a threat with eight points heading into the final dash to the line, Hammer turned her focus to finishing ahead of both to ensure the win. With the help of team-mate Becky Quinn who pushed the pace at the front of the pack for the final three laps to prevent any threats, Hammer placed several spots ahead of Gonzalez and Becker to claim the victory.
"I think the crowning glory that changed the race for me was the 10-to-go sprint where there were two people off the front," Hammer recalled. "I started gassing it and I suddenly realized there was a chance that I could catch them if I went completely all out. I absolutely blew myself, but I needed that."
The silver medallist in this event in 2006, Quinn played an integral part in Hammer's victory, putting pressure on her team-mate's primary threat. " With just a few laps to go, I was hurting so bad," explained Hammer. "Then, Becky came by me and told me to get on her wheel. Unfortunately, I couldn't hold her wheel because she was absolutely flying, but it totally helped me out because the Cuban was stuck in the back and I could see that."
Quinn finished 12th with two points, whilst Australians Rochelle Gilmore finished 13th and Tess Downing 16th.
With only the L.A. World Cup on her race schedule this season before the world championships in March, Hammer recognizes that success in two events is a real possibility in a couple of months.
"Right now, the goal is to get a medal, but I'd like to be a World Champion in the points race too," Hammer commented, before providing an insight into her World Championship preparations. "I'm still building up. This (L.A. World Cup) is one of my biggest targets, but not the ultimate peak for the year. I just wanted to test the form out and get some wins in front of the home crowd."
Anna Meares fought back from a low qualifying position to claim the gold medal in the sprint on the opening day of the Los Angeles Track Cycling World Cup. Meares rode 11.716sec for the flying 200 metres to qualify tenth fastest and setting up a tough battle to get through to the finals.
"It wasn't a bad time just not the ideal qualifying position for sprint rounds," said Meares. "I set myself up for one of the hardest runs but I was just getting the legs into gear after stepping off the plane and getting my head into gear.
"Once I got into the sprinting I snapped myself into it and got in the mood." she said.
Meares found her form to win through to a semi-final match up with German rider Jane Gerisch.
"It was a very hard semi final because it ended up being a best of four heats," explained Meares. "We dead heated the first one, I lost the second and then I won the last two.
"It was the toughest round and I have never had it happen before (dead heat)," she said. "In one way it was really cool but in the other way oh so painful."
Despite the additional efforts required in the semi final Meares backed up strongly for the gold medal final against Frenchwoman and second seed Clara Sanchez.
"In the first heat of the final I went running at her from the back [Meares won] and the second one was going too slow for me so coming into the bell I jumped and gave it everything I had and won by a fair bit," she said describing her win in two straight heats in the best of three races.
In other racing on this first day, Americans Jennie Reed (Kirkland, Wash.) and Liz Reap-Carlson (East Coast Velo), represented the United States in the women's sprint event and finished fifth and eighth respectively.
In the flying 200-meter qualifying round, Reed ran ninth with a time of 11.706 seconds while Reap-Carlson clocked a time of 12.011 seconds to place 14th. Both performances advanced the women to the first round of head-to-head competition.
In the first round of single-elimination competition, Reed was paired against and beat eighth-seeded Jinjie Gong of China. The win set up a quarterfinal match against Chinese powerhouse and the top seed, Shuang Guo of China. In the best-of-three format, Guo ousted Reed in two straight rides to send her to the consolation round to decide fifth through eighth places.
Reap-Carlson opened up head-to-head competition against Yvonne Hijgenaar of the Netherlands. Hijgenaar clocked the third-fastest time in qualifying and was a favourite on paper, but a rule infraction relegated her and sent Reap-Carlson on to a quarterfinal match against Jane Gerisch of Germany where she lost two straight to join Reed in the 5-8 final.
Reed took the win in the 5-8 final to place fifth overall while Reap-Carlson finished eighth in her first-career World Cup.
1. Sarah Hammer (USA) 13
2. Yoanka Gonzalez Perez (CUB) 13
3. Dorronsoro Olaberria (DUR) 10
1. Anna Meares (AUS)
2. Clara Sanchez (FRA)
3. Jane Gerisch (GER)
After claiming a gold medal in Friday's (19th Jan) points race, Sarah Hammer (Ouch Pro Cycling) continued her streak of success with a record-breaking performance in the women's three-kilometre individual pursuit Saturday.
Hammer earned her second gold medal of the weekend with a win over Verena Joos of Germany in the pursuit final after surpassing her own national record during the morning's qualifying session.
Hammer clocked a personal-best time and rewrote the ADT Event Center record books with a time of 3 minutes, 32.058 seconds on her way to earning the top seed before beating Joos in the head-to-head final to successfully defend her win from a year ago.
In the 12-lap contest for the gold medal, Hammer started strong, but slightly eased off the gas after realizing victory was imminent. She finished the race with a winning time of 3:37.607. Joos finished in 3:44.243.
"Once I had her (Joos) in my sights, I just put it on cruise control," commented Hammer of her conservative second-half tactics.
The strategy may have left her fresh enough to contend for a win in Sunday's (21 Jan) scratch race (see below) - also an event she won a year ago. With victories the primary objective, Hammer wasn't sure she'd produce record speed after riding an aggressive points race just 24 hours earlier.
"I didn't expect a new record today after my effort in the points race yesterday. I knew I could do it on fresh legs, but the points race was really one of the events I wanted to focus on this year."
The victory was Hammer's fifth-consecutive significant win in major competition after earning back-to-back World Cup wins in Los Angeles, a World Championship and USA Cycling national titles in 2005 and 2006.
A second American competitor for the U.S., Neva Day placed eighth with a time of 3:49.758.
500 metre Time Trial
Anna Meares, the current Olympic Champion who broke the World Record for 500m in the Sydney round of the World Cup Classics in November to win there did not compete in the event in LA, nor did current World Champion Natalia Tsylinskaya from Belarus. This left the dorr open for Lisandra Guerra from Cuba to take the top step of the podium with 34.531secodns. Guerra took bronze in the 2006 World Track Championships in Bordeaux in this event.
In other competition a different pair of Americans - Jennie Reed and Liz Carlson (East Coast Velo) - were in position to earn another medal for the USA., but fell just short in the women's team sprint.
A new World Championship discipline this year, the women's team sprint featured a solid field of nine teams in the qualifier. The duo of Reed and Carlson earned a berth in the bronze-medal final with the third-fastest mark in qualifying after clocking a time of 35.686 seconds. That performance set up a head-to-head match against the fourth-seeded Cuban team. Racing for the final spot on the podium, the Cubans bested the Americans by a slim 0.275-second margin.
1. Sarah Hammer (USA) 3:37.607
2. Verena Joos (GER) 3:44.243
3. Maria Luisa Calle Williams (COL)
500-Meter Time Trial
1. Lisandra Guerra (CUB) 34.531
2. Willy Kanis (NED) 34.864
3. Guo Shuang (CHN) 35.247
1. Netherlands 34.255
2. Australia 34.761
3. Cuba 35.531
Americans won three more medals on the final day of the Los Angeles Track World Cup as Sarah Hammer (Ouch Pro Cycling) and Becky Quinn took gold and silver in the women's 10-kilometer scratch race and Jennie Reed sprinted to a bronze in the women's keirin.
The victory was Hammer's third of the weekend after winning the points race on Friday and the individual pursuit on Saturday, giving her a clean sweep of the women's endurance events.
In the 2006 edition, also at the ADT Event Center in Los Angeles, California, Hammer won gold in both the individual pursuit and the scratch race, but this year an entry in the points race offered her a chance at a trifecta.
"Coming in, I wanted to win all three, but in reality, whether or not that would happen, you never know," said Hammer. "This morning I woke up and didn't even want to do the scratch race because I was getting tired both physically and mentally. But once I get on the start line, I'm ready to go."
In a carbon copy of last year's race in which Hammer and Quinn swept the top two spots, Hammer again took control in the race's closing laps as she led out the sprint with Quinn on her wheel. After riding conservatively for the majority of the 40-lap contest, Hammer moved to the front of the 24-rider field with three laps remaining. One lap later, Quinn managed to position herself on Hammer's wheel and stayed there until the finish.
"My game plan was to just ride the race and see what happens, then if Sarah came to the front it was my job to fight for her wheel," explained Quinn of her tactics. "The point of the race was obviously to win, and she went to the front with three to go and I had about a lap and a half to get on her wheel, and if I want the wheel, I'm going to get it one way or the other."
Given last year's success, the win was even more impressive since Hammer and Quinn were both marked women and their tactics were exposed.
"People most likely knew what was going to happen, said Quinn. "I think we were a little incognito last year, but people know how strong Sarah is and that she likes to lead it out and that it was going to be a fight for her wheel."
"The best thing about Becky is you don't mess with her when she's fighting for a wheel," said Hammer of her team-mate. "When it's crunch time, Becky can get anything she wants. We had no plan going into it, but it's kind of that unspoken thing where she knows what I'm going to do and I know what she's going to do, and so we're a pretty dangerous duo, I think."
Following the scratch race, Reed provided the USA with its final medal of the three-day competition when she sprinted to a third-place finish in the keirin final.
As the only American medallist in World Cup competition this season after the first two events in Sydney and Moscow, Reed lined up against Shuang Guo (CHN), Svetlana Grankowskaja (RUS) and Kaarle McCulloch (AUS) in her first-round heat where a second-place effort advanced her to the second round.
In the second round, Reed placed second behind Clara Sanchez (FRA) to advance to the final from a heat that also included Anna Meares (AUS), Yvonne Hijgenaar (NED), Jinjie Gong (CHN) and Grankowskaja.
In the six-woman final, Reed was matched against Guo, Hijgenaar, Sanchez, Sandy Claire (FRA) and Daniela Larreal (VEN) and finished behind Larreal and Guo to add a bronze to the silver she won in Sydney in November.
1. Sarah Hammer (USA)
2. Becky Quinn (USA)
3. Adrie Visser (NED)
1. Daniela Larreal (VEN)
2. Shuang Guo (CHN)
3. Jennie Reed (USA)
Click on any image to enlarge. >>
All images courtesy Mitch Friedman 2007©
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