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London 2012 Olympic Games Track Day 4 Report, Photos – Bell 8th, Sullivan 11th

by Laura Robinson

August 05, 2012 (London, UK) – Following two days of grueling racing over six events Canada’s Zach Bell nailed is signature Scratch race but still could not find the podium as Lasse Norman Hansen captured the men’s Omnium overall, earning Denmark’s second gold of the Olympics.

Silver went to France’s Bryan Coquard while bronze went to Team GBR’s Edward Clancy. It seems there cannot be a cycling track podium without a British rider on it. Bell, silver medalist in 2012 World Championships, was 8th.

“It’s a cool event,” said Hansen of the Omnium. “It’s about being able to do all events. It’s the best all-round rider who wins and the one who gets mental overview at the end. It’s a hard one. Maybe the toughest. It’s so long, with hard disciplines.”

Hansen was a man on a mission starting with the 250 metre flying sprint and finishing 4th, then the points race where he attacked and attacked and placed 2nd. His Achilles heel ended up being the elimination race, where he was 12th, but he came back Sunday morning with a killer 4000 individual pursuit and won with a time of 4:20.674, averaging 55:261 kph.

He was aggressive as ever in the Scratch race when he collided with another rider and crashed. Only Hansen fell and took a bit of the track with him. With a torn skinsuit, track rash and another bike, Hansen was able to get back in the game, finishing 6th.

“I had a really bad feeling after the crash,” Hansen said. “It’s really important to getting back up. I actually didn’t believe in myself after the crash but I got back up and took the lap. I just got some final power. It was a nasty fall. I wanted the win even more.”

With a second place in the last event, the 1-km time trial, he flew to a 1:02:314, only to be beaten by Team GB’s Clancy’s 1:00.981. But Clancy could not catch the flying Dane overall and the gold went to one of the youngest riders out there. Hansen only turned twenty in February.

“The point was to go out there and kill myself-just do whatever was needed to get the gold medal and I did it,” said Hansen of his time trial ride after sustaining injuries from the crash. “I cannot say anything except that I am extremely happy and it feels unreal.”

Meanwhile, Bell started the two-day event with a 7th place in the flying 250 metre sprint in 13:406 seconds. As has been the case at these Olympics, the first cyclist was a Team GB rider – Clancy – who was also on the gold medal winning team pursuit team. He out-classed the field with a 12:556. No other rider went under 13 seconds.

Next up was the Points race which is normally one of Bell’s favourite events as it mimics a short but hard criterium. He had two third place finishes, but missed the crucial breaks when Denmark, Germany, Italy, Spain and France jumped the field and lapped the pack. He described himself as “shy” after the race and that was the best descriptor. He lacked the usual Zach-attack aggression and ended up 13th.

The Elimination race was better with a 10th place finish but he was still behind Coquard of France, Elia Viviani of Italy, Clancy of Great Britan, Shane Archbold of New Zealand, Roger Kluge of Germany, and Glenn O’Shea of Australia – all of whom either had faster 250m sprint times or were in the top four more often in the sprints in the Points race.

The standings after the first three events put Bell in ninth position with 30 points and Coquard of France leading with 10 points; Elia Viviani of Italy had 13; Glenn O’Shea of Australia was at 14, Lasse Norman Hansen of Denmark at 18, Roger Kluge of Germany at 19, Shane Archbold of New Zealand next with 23, and Walter Fernando Perze of Argentina had 28.

“Well, it’s not a good start for me. I’m not really sure why,” said Bell after the day was over. “I felt good coming in. Tomorrow should be a good day for me – the form’s there for me in training. I’m going to go home now and recover, come out tomorrow and open it up to do what I can do.”

Sunday morning was the 4,000 metre individual pursuit. Hansen came in as the bronze medalist from the 2011 World Junior Championships and took it in 4:20.674. Clancy, who is the Olympic gold medalist in the same distance from a mere three days earlier in the team pursuit, placed second in 4:20.853 Third place went to O’Shea of Australia in 4:24.811. Bell placed 8th in 4:29.411, which moved him up to 8th, but with only two events left and such talent ahead of him, it looked to be impossible to move into the top three.

Bell had his world championship legs back when he rode a brilliant scratch race, always at the front group, successfully lapping the field with nine other riders and then making a solo break with 10 laps to go.

Spain’s Eloy Teruel Rovira joined him with approximately seven to go, but they were chased by a powerful contingent of five. Could they keep the gap or would they be swallowed? Bell just kept getting faster and during the bell lap put on such a burst of speed he left Rovira in his wake.

He moved up to 7th and said later he was given “a bit of a long leash” by the riders ahead of him in points as they knew he could not challenge them for medals. With only the 1 km time trial to go, three riders were tied for first place ahead of him; Hansen, Elia Viviani and Coquard – all with 25 points. Following them was Kluge, Clancy and O’Shea.

Clancy proved how efficient the Brits have been at training – he can set a world record in the 4,000 metre team pursuit and turn around and ride a 1:00.981 kilo the same day he rides an individual pursuit and does a scratch race. Hansen was in next at 1:02.314, O’Shea took third in 1:02.513 and Bell placed 10th with a 1:04.328 to finish 8th overall.

“If you’re not right on – perfect – you have a subpar day. I lost a lot in the Points race. There are guys on the podium who deserved it. That’s how the Olympics go. It was a good fight and I’m happy to be part of it. I take ownership of my results.”
Bell thanked all those who have supported him, such as Cycling Canada and Own The Podium, but he particularly thanked his wife Rebecca, who was in the stands and seven months pregnant, as well as Steve Bauer, founder and director of the SpiderTech team he races for.

When asked what is next on the agenda Bell replied, “I don’t know – painting a room or something.”

Women’s Sprint – First Rounds
Sunday morning’s opening event was the 200metre flying start qualifications for the women’s Sprint. As has been the case each day, a British rider broke a record. This was the case with Victoria Pendleton who rode to a 10.724, breaking her four-year-old Olympic record of 10.963.

Australia’s Anna Meares was next in with 10.808, China’s Shuang Guo was third fastest in 11.020, Germany’s Kristine Vogel had the fourth fastest qualifying time with 11.027, while Belarus’ Olga Panarina qualified fifth in 11.080. Canada’s Monique Sullivan qualified 12th fastest in 11.347.

From these results Sullivan was matched with China Hong Kong’s Wai Sze Lee in the 1/16 finals. Lee won the bronze medal in the Keirin two days earlier but Sullivan showed what she was made of by not being intimidated by such stardom and answered back each time Lee tried to ride up the banking or initiate a jump.

Lee won in 11.300 with Sullivan right on her wheel. The time turned out to be the fastest in all the heats in the 1/16 finals. Even Pendleton turned in a 11.775. This put Sullivan in the 1/16 Repechage finals where she executed a brilliant tactical ride against Hyejin Lee of Korea and Kayono Maeda of Japan, winning in 11.572.

This opened up another chance for Sullivan and she moved onto the 1/8 finals against Australia’s Anna Meares. Later Sullivan said Meares, who is her foremost role model, treated her “nicely” by not opening up too much of a space between them at the finish line. Meares took the sprint in 11.566.

Sullivan moved onto the 1/8 final Repechage against Panarina and Natasha Hansen of New Zealand. Panarina won the race but Sullivan took a very close second. She would have to contest 9-12 place now against Holland’s Willy Kanis, Chinese Hong Kong’s Wai Sze Lee and New Zealand’s Natasha Hansen. Sullivan placed 11th with Kanis winning in 11.852.

“I’m really happy with my effort,” said Sullivan at the end of the day. “I just tried to sprint as fast as I could and did my best. My only chance with Anna was to surprise her when I jumped. She was nice to me in that race,” she added, explaining that she felt Meares had held back somewhat.

“Meares is a leader for our sport and for women’s sport,” declared Sullivan, and just as she was going to cycle off she felt she must add a bit more. “The support for the team was phenomenal. The results Zach had don’t discredit him, or how far the program has come. A small group of people really support us well.”

The women’s Sprint continues tomorrow and many fans may know that Sullivan took two and a half years off university to prepare for the London Olympics. She has half of a mechanical engineering degree finished at U of Calgary, and like a lot of athletes now will go back to finish up the part of her life she put on hold so she could see how fast she could possibly be. At such a young age and obvious talent, Sullivan has at least one more Olympics up her racing sleeve.

Full results Day 4 HERE.

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