World Track Championships – Pursuit, Points and Team Pursuit

Next up for me was the 2km Individual Pursuit. I had high hopes for this event given my world record and having beaten last year’s 2nd place finisher Larry Nolan twice this summer (though by the smallest of margins). Due to my time I was put into the final heat on the home straight against Mark Wiffen of the UK. I thought I had a chance to win. At that time the fastest rider so far was Larry in 2:22.596. I gave Rob Van Houweling my schedule that called for an opening lap of 24 seconds, than then 7 laps at 16.9. That would be fast enough put me into the gold medal round in the evening. But my opening lap was slow and the rest weren’t any better. I finished 4th in 2:24.07 putting me into the bronze medal ride against Stephane Le Beau from Canada. I was about .7 seconds slower than Stephane, but felt that I had executed my start lap poorly in the qualifier and could get most of it back there. But when it came down to the final I just didn’t have what it took and rode even slower. Almost as slow as I did outdoors at Hellyer and San Diego!

The video for the two medal rides is below. The gold medal ride was a great match and well worth the watch! Larry and Mark Wiffen traded the lead several times.

Two days after the IP was the points race. This one, like the scratch race was a race that I felt I could possibly win or possibly finish in last place. In the morning qualifier all you really needed to do was score in one of the three points sprints and you would surely make the final. 4 places times 3 sprints means a maximum of 12 riders would have points at the end and 12 qualify. If less than 12 score points, then the final qualifying spots are based on finish order of the final sprint. My tactic was to score in a sprint, then move to the back and stay out of trouble. I did just that, nabbing 2nd place points on the 2nd sprint and getting out of the way. Much more confidence inspiring than my Scratch race qualifying heat.

The final though was a different story. I am not a sprinter so my tactic was to try and find a way to lap the field and/or score some points from a break. It just didn’t work out. I got into one short lived break that was brought back after a couple of laps and all of my other attempts were even less successful. Long story short, nothing I did worked and the more I tried, the more tired I got and the less authority my attacks had. I finished with a big fat goose egg in the points total, but didn’t quite finish last. 18th out of 23 starters. Larry rode another great race, taking 2nd in the final sprint to ensure his victory.

Points Race:

My last event was the Team Pursuit on Saturday the 14th. My team was Larry Nolan, Don Langley, Shaun Wallace and myself. We called our team “Shiver me Timbers”. Don’s idea since three of us were riding on Specialized Shiv road TT frames and the track is wood. BTW, the Specialized Langster track bike is named after Don who works at Specialized and has probably been racing on the track longer than I’ve been racing at all. Don, Larry and I had a reasonable amount of practice together, but Shaun lives in San Diego and the four of us had only rode one team pursuit in San Diego, plus a short workout the night before. On the other hand, the defending champion team from LA has done this event together for close to three years, live in the same area and train together frequently on this very velodrome. To say that they were a well drilled team was an understatement.

Race day morning we woke to an email thread between Shaun and the chief UCI official regarding his eligibility to race for a US team. Shaun is from Great Britian and raced at an elite level back in the day, including the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He has been an US citizen for about 9 years but for some reason the UCI still has him listed as GB in their database. A copy of his passport and USA Cycling license was enough to prove his citizenship and we were allowed to race.

We started second to last in the qualifiers. Our plan was to ride a schedule just fast enough to beat the previous best time and get into the gold medal ride. We went with a 23 second start lap, followed by 11 laps at 17 seconds for a 3:30. We had some issues and when I got to the front for my last pull we were .5 seconds behind the current best time. I was able to get on the gas enough to get that time back and we finished with the best time so far of 3:31.053.

The Pinnacle team started last. They are two time defending TP champions and hold the world best time for our age group of 3:28. They started out faster than us and built up to a 2 second lead with 1km to go. From that point they slowed and finished in 3:30.528, a comfortable .5 seconds ahead of us. It looked like they went out as normal and then just floated the last km to do just enough to qualify and conserve energy. They looked good.

We discussed our strategy for the final and went with a 3:27.5 schedule as we felt that it would take a record time to beat them. 23 second start followed by 16.8 second laps. We also had a serious discussion about pull lengths. Larry and I felt really good and would take 2 lap pulls. Don and Shaun would take pulls of whatever length they felt they could keep on the desired pace. Better to do .5 laps at the right speed than do a full lap and start slowing down and not be able to recover afterwards.

And we just nailed it. We expected to be behind for the first km or so, but we were ahead from the start and almost all of our splits were ahead of schedule. Our slowest lap was a 16.8 and we closed with a 16.1 to take the win in a new worlds best time of 3:25.286, almost 4 seconds ahead of Pinnacle. Almost the best part of the team pursuit was Don getting his first world championship. He has tried on a few occasions and been close, but never quite got it. Larry of course has won about a million, Shaun had won before and I lucked into one in my first race so it was great to finish it off with Don opening up his account also.

It was a great way to end the week! I was selected for drug testing and set another “world record” by getting my business done (including paperwork) in about 10 minutes. 🙂 Much better than the several hours of rehydrating after the hour record.

At the start of the week I was VERY nervous about this. At that time I wasn’t sure if I would want to come back in 2018. Maybe I’d just do one track worlds and be done with it. By the end of the week though we were already planning for next year. The organizers did a great job and the track is a great track. We will be back for sure.

TP Medal rides. Bronze, then Gold.

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