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Olympics 2004 – Men\’s Pursuit & Team Sprint Finals

August 21, 2004 – The velodrome was hotter than ever on the second day of competition as temperatures climbed into the high 30’s on a nearly windless Saturday.

First up were Rob Hayles of Great Britain and Sergi Escobar of Spain for third and fourth place. Hayles looked smooth, but Escobar had gained over two seconds by the halfway point. By the last two laps it seemed as if Hayles could barely finish, with Escobar taking the bronze in 4:17:947, and Hayles registering 4:22:291. The gold medal ride proved to be a much different matter with Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain up against Brad McGee of Australia. Wiggins held the Olympic record at 4:15:165, while no one still had touched Chris Boardman’s awesome World Record time of 4:11: 114 in place since 1996.

Wiggins went out fast, gaining just over a second in the first couple of laps, but McGee rode his own race, closing in on him lap by lap, wavering between half to nearly one second behind for the first half. But Wiggins simply did not falter, and was up by over two seconds toward the end, finishing in 4:16:304 to take the gold with McGee’s 4:20:436. With arms around each other the two racers rode their victory lap together, and Boardman’s and Wiggins’ records remained. But Wiggins’ was still elated. “This sort of thing happens to other people when you watch the telly” he said. “It doesn’t happen to you.” Earlier though, he admitted that the individual pursuit gold medal had been a dream of his since 1992 when he saw Chris Boardman win it in Barcelona. As it turns out, Boardman has helped Wiggins prepare for this day, and was waiting for him in the Great Britain pit with congratulations.

Men’s Team Sprint Final

Eight countries had contested this event in the preliminary including Germany, Japan, France, Australia, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Spain, and Greece. Three riders from each country start this event, and with each lap, after leading his team around, a rider switches up on the banking until there is only one left who sprints against the rider left on the other side of the track, as if they are in an individual pursuit.

This list was whittled down in the first heat to France (Michael Bourgain, Laurent Gane, Arnaud Tournant) and Australia (Ryan Bayley, Sean Eadie, Shane Kelly) in for the bronze medal ride. France took the sprint with the narrowest of margin: 44.359, for an average speed of 60.867 km per hr, with Australia immediately behind them in 44.404, for 60.805 km per hr. Germany (Jens Fiedler, Stefan Nimke, Rene Wolff) and Japan (Toshiaki Fushimi, Masaki Inque, Tomohiro Nagatsuka) were equally well matched for the gold and silver sprint. Germany triumphed over Japan with a blistering 43.980 (61.391 km per hr), with Japan recording 44:246, which translated to 61.022 km per hr.

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