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An American medal in the 25km women’s points race and a reversal of the men’s team sprint final results marked the opening day of the UCI track world championships in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, a 45-minute drive from the heart of Paris, on Wednesday.
Women’s 25km points race
The UCI put its new onboard camera system to use for the first time in the women’s 25km points race, streaming live footage from inside the event. Germany’s Stephanie Pohl won after lapping the field and taking a number of sprints.
American Kimberly Geist was the first to take a lap, launching solo halfway through the 25km race and earning 20 points for her efforts. She went on to finish third, behind Pohl and Japan’s Minami Uwano.
Chinese pair Gong Jinjie and Zhong Tianshi won the women’s team sprint title in a new world record time.
The Chinese set a time of 32.034 seconds to beat Russians Daria Shmeleva and Anastasia Voynova. Australians Kaarle McCulloch and Anna Mears upset reigning world and Olympic champions Kristina Vogel and Miriam Welte of Germany for the bronze.
It was a sweet victory for Gong who had finished on the world podium six times before without ever winning a gold. Also, she and Guo Shuang had been disqualified from the Olympic final in 2012, which they had won, due to an early changeover.
A precise read of the team sprint regulations, and a fortuitious overhead camera at the finish line, handed the French men the team sprint gold ahead of a faster New Zealand squad, which was disqualified.
New Zealand’s second man, Ethan Mitchell, overlapped its first, Edward Dawkins, just prior to the change zone, a small section of the track where the lead rider in the team sprint must peel off and up the track. The Kiwis thought they had defended the world title they gained in Cali, Colombia in 2014 for about five minutes before the disqualification was handed down.
It meant that Frenchman Gregory Bauge, whose initial leg had left the French a third of a second down on New Zealand, won his fifth world title in the discipline.
Kevin Sireau claimed his third team sprint gold while, for Michael D’Almeida, it was his first.
Germany trio Joachim Eilers, Rene Enders, and Robert Foerstemann took bronze ahead of Russians Denis Dmitriev, Nikita Shurshin, and Pavel Yakushevskiy.
Despite the loss of Carmen Small, who was pulled from the four-woman squad due to illness, the U.S. women’s team pursuit team of Sarah Hammer, Jennifer Valente, Lauren Tamayo, and Ruth Winder qualified sixth with a time of 4:28.302. That time was more than three seconds faster than the ride that netted the squad third place at the last round of the track World Cup in Cali, Colombia.
When contacted by VeloNews, Small expressed hope that she could race Thursday.
Australia qualified first with a time of 4:18.135, followed by Great Britain at 4:18.207, and Canada at 4:20.699.
Great Britain, the London Olympic champions, have won six of seven titles at stake in the women’s event since it was added to the program in 2007.
In the first round on Thursday, Australia will face New Zealand, fourth in qualifying. Great Britain will face Canada. The winners of the two matches will advance to the finals.
New Zealand took home top honors in the men’s qualifying with a time of 3:56.421, followed by Great Britain at 3:57.716 and Germany at 3:58.861.
The French men’s pursuit team set a new French record in qualifying, riding to a time of 4:00.783. Bryan Coquard, Julien Duval, Damien Gaudin, and Julien Morice beat the old record of 4:02.855
The world championships continue Thursday with the first round of the men’s and women’s team pursuits as well as the Kirin, 15km scratch, and 500m time trial.