Crashes, riders lapping the field, victories for the underdog: Session Five of these UCI Juniors Track World Championships had everything, and set up some wonderful finals to take place in the evening session.
The day started with Women’s 500-metre Sprint qualification, which was dominated by Great Britain’s Dannielle Khan GBR, who set an unbeatable time of 11.532 seconds. The other automatic qualifiers were Falappi (AUS), Jang (KOR), Kiseleva (RUS), Pain (FRA) and Bayona (COL). The rest went into the repechages, scheduled for later in the morning.
Next came the first round of the much-awaited Men’s Omnium. Japan’s Hayato Okamoto set the best early time of 14.093 seconds, closely followed by the Swiss Omnium Champion Patrick Müller, who came to within 0.065 seconds of Okamoto, with twenty heats left.
The first rider to go inside fourteen seconds was Marc Jurczyk (GER), who achieved a time of 13.524s. Ollie Wood (GBR) came close to Jurczyk’s mark with 13.878 seconds, which put him in second place, although he immediately dropped back into provisional third as Casper Pedersen (DEN), riding the first Omnium of his life, rode 13.807 seconds. Jack Edwards (AUS) then replaced Wood in second place with his time of 13.536 seconds. Portugal’s Nelson Silva set a Personal Best of 14.001s, but it was only good enough for seventh place.
Jordan Levasseur (FRA) then rode in the third best time of 13.707 seconds, but then he too dropped a place as Eric Johnstone (CAN) rode 13.676. After one round, the Omnium standings were as follows: 1 Murczyk (GER), 2 Edwards (AUS), 3 Johnstone (CAN), 4 Levasseur (FRA), 5 Minali (ITA), 6 Pederson (DEN.
The main drama of the Women’s Sprint 1/16 finals involved India’s Deborah. First time around, she and her Russian opponent, Rogovaya, crashed. After a restart, the Indian athlete darted past to take a surprise win. Deborah joined Degrendele (BEL), Heinze (GER), Kim (KOR), Beckett (AUS), and Wernimont (BEL) in the 1/8 finals.
In the first of two Men’s Points Race heats, the South African Jevandre Pauls was the first to attack, soon joined by Mexico’s Jorge Moreno. Those two were rewarded when they lapped the field within 8 laps. Germany’s Julian Witt also started aggressively, taking second place in Sprint One, with 50 of the 60 laps to go, then joining France’s Benjamin Thomas and lapping the field with 33 laps to go, shortly after Colombia’s Juan Osorio and the Chilean Cristian Cornejo. Keller (SUI), Lizde (ITA) and the Individual Pursuit bronze medallist Chursin (RUS) joined forces to lap the field with a quick attack that lasted just four laps. Witt reinforced his lead by winning Sprint Four with twenty laps to go: it was enough to bring him victory. The Dane Emil Wang also lapped the field, to secure his passage into the final. Harrison (AUS) was the one qualifier not to lap the field: One sprint win, and two second places, secured him 10th place in the heat.
In the Second Men’s Points Race heat, Mark Downey (IRL) attacked the field alone with 26 laps to go, and reached the back of the peloton 15 laps later. The attack brought him all five points in Sprint Four, with 20 laps to go, and secured him the win. Ireland have not even had a Junior programme for four years, to the result was a big boost to their revived programme. A wonderful ride by Liam Aitcheson (NZl) in the 2nd Men’s Points heat. He won Sprint One, then crashed with 28 laps to go. He rejoined the peloton and, with 9 laps to go, attacked. Six laps later, he lapped the field to seal second place in the heat. Those two were the only riders to gain a lap.
In the Women’s Sprint Quarter Finals, India’s Deborah lost narrowly to Australia’s Tennille Falappi, but confirmed that she is very fast indeed! The qualifiers were announced as Khan (GBR), Falappi (AUS), Jang (KOR), Kieleva (RUS), Pain (FRA) and Degrendele (BEL). Then Degrendele learned that she has been relegated for racing on the blue strip – her second relegation of these Championships, after an incorrect relay in the Team Sprint. Her opponent Martha Bayona (COL) replaced her, and Degrendele went into the repechages, saying bullishly that she would qualify anyway.
Before she could, the Men’s Omnium riders faced the Points race. No one was allowed to get away to lap the field although, with 49 of the 60 laps to go, a six-man group formed ahead of the peloton: Pedersen (DEN), Tsishchanka (BLR), Navarro (ARG), Estrada (COL), Müller (SUI) and Klevanov (KAZ). Those riders mopped up the second and third intermediate sprints, and all but Klevanov would make the top eight in the race. Italy’s Riccardo Minali won Sprint Four with 20 laps to go, at the head of the peloton. Then the Russian Strakhov attacked with Ireland’s Fallon. Strakhov took the penultimate sprint, which would bring him fourth place in the race. With eight laps to go, Silva (POR), Jurczyk (GER), Gogh (NZl), Pietrula (CZE) and Pedersen (DEN) attacked, and stayed away until the end. Pedersen took the final sprint, which gave him the win, ahead of Tishanka (BLR), Navarro (ARG) and Strakhov (RUS).
After two events, Pedersen led the overall standings, with the Australian Jack Edwards, coached in Sydney by the multiple Olympic and World Team and Individual Pursuit champion Bradley McGee, in second place. Minali, son of Nicola Minali, the winner of three Tour de France stages, lay third.
The repechages of the Women’s Sprint provided redemption for Doreen Heinze (GER) and Nicky Degrendele (BEL), whose dramatic championships continued as she outrode her compatriot Catherine Wernimont – the daughter of the Belgian national coach! – and the strong Korean Soojin Kim. In the second repechage, Deborah of India finally went out. Germany Doreen Heinze beat her and Tian Beckett (AUS) to progress to the semi-finals. But we will certainly be seeing more of the lightning-fast Indian sprinter.
The session ended with 14 qualifying heats of the Women’s Individual Pursuit, Amy Hill (Great Britain) set the early best time of 2:30.488. It lasted only until the Australian girls took to the boards. Lauren Perry rode 2:27.890, pushing Hill down into second place, and ten minutes later Josie Talbot, so tightly marked in Wednesday’s Women’s Scratch Race, rode a time of 2:28.566 to push the British rider into third.
But the last two heats were full of surprises. First a wonderful, 2:30.507 ride from Russia’s Natalia Mozharova moved her into second place. Then Colombia’s Jessica Parra (COL), the gold medallist in the Women's Scratch race on Wednesday, rode a storming Individual Pursuit, beating the reigning World Champion, Kelsey Robson (AUS), on her way to a time of 2:28.754, which place her fourth overall. Parra will take on Josie Talbot (AUS) this evening, in the bronze medal play off, with Perry taking on Mozharova for gold.