A marathon qualifying session that ran deep into the afternoon produced a long series of incidents and set up some wonderful finals for this evening.
It all started with no less than 22 qualifying heats for the Men's Individual Pursuit finals. After Michael Dessau (USA) had recorded a personal best and the early time to beat of 3:29.058, Matt Gibson (Great Britain) set a new mark that would stand long into the session, with a PB of 3:22.386. Emil Wand (DEN) moved into second place with 3:27.899. Moments later, Simon Brühlmann (SUI) replace him in second with yet another Personal Best of 3:26.043. In the next Heat, both riders, Silva (POR) and Moriguchi (JAP), set Personal Bests, with Moriguchi moving into third place with 3:26.760 secs.
Marco Franchetti (Arg) became the first rider to catch his opponent, Boris Kulikov (Uzb), in Heat Seven, but they placed only tenth and twelfth. Heat Nine saw Mathias Krigbaum (Den), a 3:21 man in the past, take on Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB). Krigbaum’s time of 3:24.901 moved him into second place, 2.5 secs behind Gibson (GB). Geoghegan Hart stood eighth with his mark of 3:30.225, while his team-mate Gibson still headed the leader board.
Even before it started, Heat Eleven looked tasty: Connor Stead (NZl) had ridden 3:23 in the past, and the Australian Callum Scotson’s PB was 3:21. Sure enough, Scotson (Aus) led at every split and set a new best time of 3:20.831, ousting Gibson by 1.5 seconds.
In Heat 12, Jonas Tenbrock (Ger) set the second-best times for the first 2 kilometres, but faded to 3rd with 3:24.330. In the next hear, his compatriot and team-mate Leon Rohde set the fourth best times for 1, 1.5 and 2 kilometres, before he faded to fifth with 3:25.007
Next, Belgium’s magnificently named Matthias Van Beethoven took on a very fast Kiwi, Alex Hooper. The New Zealander achieved 3:24.155 and third place.
With seven heats left to ride, the top four times were as follows: 1. Scotson (AUS) 3:20.831, 2. Gibson (GB) 3:22.386, 3. Hooper (NZl) 3:24 155, 4. Tenbrock (GER) 3:24.330.
The Italian Filippo Ganna (PB: 3:22), fell short of his mark with 3:25.292, and had to be content with eighth spot. Corentin Ermenault, whose father Philippe was twice World IP champion, faced Eric Johnstone (Can), whose PB, set at altitude, is a remarkable 3:17. It was a wonderful heat: Ermenault pipped Johnstone by 0.18 secs: his 3:24.702 was good enough for sixth place on the leaderboard. It was an impressive ride for a first year junior.
Then came Heat Twenty: Zachery Shaw (Aus. PB: 3:19), against Eduardo Estrada, winner of Five Pan-American gold medals in July. Estrada tried to match Shaw’s rapid start, then had to slow down as the Australian rode to a fabulous new best time of 3:19.293. That left the leaderboard looking like this: 1. Shaw (AUS) 3:19.293. 2. Scotson (AUS) 3:20.831, 3. Gibson (GB) 3:22.386, 4. Hooper (NZl) 3:24 155.
In Heat Twenty-One, Canada's Aiden Caves moved into fourth place with 3:23.754. With one heat to go, he was in bronze play-off position. That was before a brilliantly judged ride by Pavel Chursin (RUS), who started slow, accelerated throughout, and then secured finished third place in 3:21.598.
The near-endless session finally produced the finallists who will meet this evening: Chursin against Gibson in the bronze-medal play off, and then Shaw against Scotson – two Autralian friends and team-mates - in the final.
Six heats produced as many automatic qualifiers for the Men’s Keirin second round. Malaysia's Sahrom and Russia's Gorlov judged their winning moves beautifully to win Heats One and Two. France's Benjamin Gil attacked daringly with 1.5 laps to go, and won Heat Three convincingly. Jai Angsuthasawit (Aus) led Heat Four from start to finish, holding off first Malaysia's Mohd Zonis then Japan's Kubota, to gin his second round place. Heat Five was also won by a long-distance attack: Thomas Copponi (Fra) attacked at the penultimate crossing of the finish line. In Heat Six, Jaroslav Snasel (Cze) used the same tactic, winning the final automatic round two place with a brilliant attack a full lap from the finish. He won the heat by six full bike lengths.
Qualifying for the Women’s Team Pursuit produced a dramatic finale. The penultimate team to start was the Great Britain quartet of Amy Hill, Hayley Jones, Emily Kay and Emily Nelson. They finished in 4:38.708, a brilliant new world record time.
The Australian quartet started even faster than Team GB, and were riding to world record pace after 1km. Then, a crash! A mechanical incident saw a wheel slip in its stays among one of the leading riders in the line. Through no fault of her own, Macey Stewart, third of the four, hit the wheel in front and went down. The three remaining riders immediately droped off world record pace, but still rode wonderfully to achieve fourth place and qualify for the bronze medal play off.
The finals this evening will see Australia take on Italy for the bronze medal, and Great Britain grapple with Russia for gold.
The Keirin repechages saw Presbury (NZl), Dubchenko (RUS), Jung (KOR), Zaitsou (BLR), Kyle Borchjes (RSA) and Svajunas Jonauskas (LIT) qualify for the second round.
With two qualifying heats for the Men's Scratch Race final, the end finally came into view. And what drama those two races saw: crashes, mechanical incidents, ambitious attacks, riders lapping the field… it was a fabulous way to end.
In Heat One, Matthias Oseï (Belgium) attacked with 23 of the 30 laps to go. He was joined by Australia’s Sam Wesford, but the peloton was wary of the Australian and closed them down. Then, crashes put paid to the aspirations of Germain Burton (GB), Irwandle Lakasek (MAS) and Hwangee Kim (KOR), and a mechanical problem ended the hopes of Colombia’s Daniel Martínez. Meanwhile, the enterprising Lucas Destang (Fra) and Yuriy Shirmukhamedov (Uzb) booked their passage into the final by lapping the field. Behind them, the following also qualified: Tsishchanka BLR, Navarro ARG, Haggerty NZl, Welsford AUS, Porzner GER, Oseï BEL, Klevanov KAZ, Helis CZE.
Heat Two saw South Africa’s Jevandre Pauls and Japan’s Hiroki Moriguchi lock handle bars and fall. Both men remounted, and achieved qualification. Moriguchi, in fact, took second place, and Pauls, third, behind the winner, Denmark’s Emil Olsen. The other qualifiers were Sadler (IRL), Oliveira (POR), Plebani (ITA), Soulios (GRE), Selenati (SUI) and Cornejo (CHI).
By the time the marathon ended, the inhabitants of the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome were all older, wiser and hungrier – but all mouths were watering at the prospect of some enthralling finals in store in the evening session.