All-Time World Track Cycling Champs – Women’s pursuit

Time to turn to the ladies with the Team pursuit. To increase participation we will revert back to the three-woman 3000m pursuit. There’s little point in a qualifying round so instead we’ll start with four seeded teams. These are the four countries with most individual pursuit world championships. That’s simply because the team pursuit is too young an event to give us a true sense of historical strength. The seeds are therefore the USA, GB, Netherlands and Russia. These teams will be kept apart in the first round. There are only eight entrants, mainly to keep things simple, but also because realistic contenders are few and far between

Round 1

GBR (Laura Trott, Rebecca Romero, Beryl Burton) v New Zealand (Alison Shanks, Sarah Ulmer, Madonna Harris)

The Brits had a wealth of choices and were able to leave out world pursuit champ Joanna Rowsell as well as perennial medalist Wendy Houvanegal. The Kiwis were also strong with a World and an Olympic  coupled with Harris, Commonwealth champ and World silver medalist in 1990. GB start out the quicker,with Trott using her speed to good effect. Ulmer tried to drag New Zealand back, but Burton and Romero resisted and the GB squad came home two seconds clear.

USA (Rebecca Twigg, Connie Carpenter, Sarah Hammer) v Australia (Kate Mactier, Katherine Bates, Kathy Watts)

The US had three super stars and they were always going to be too much for Australia who had three solid riders but no standout. The Americans went through the first kilometre a second ahead and continued to pull away, winning by 4 seconds in the end.

Netherlands (Keetie van Oosten Hage, Leontien Zijlaard van Moorsel, Ingrid Haringa) v France (Jeannie Longo, Marion Clignet, Clara Sanchez)

This looked like the best clash of the first round and it didn’t disappoint There were question marks over the third rider for each team. France had a legend, a multiple world champ and then practically no one in pursuiting terms. They therefore turned to Clara Sanchez, a kierin specialist who later turned to the Omnium but who had little to no pursuit pedigree. The Dutch one-two punch won four world titles each and they could also call upon Anne Riemersma, a three-time worlds silver medalist. But the Dutch were looking for the killer blow an so having considered Miriam Vos, turned to Harringa, arguably the greatest points racer ever and also an Olympic medalist in the sprint. Harringa and Sanchez led off and it was the Dutch lady who adapted best, helping to power her team into a clear lead after the first kilo. She also held on longer than Sanchez who left the French with just two riders at the half way mark. Longo and Clignet did their best to bring it back, but with Haringa hanging on to help, van Moorsel and van Oosten Hage were never likely the let it slip. The Dutch by 2 clear seconds.

Russia (Tamara Garkushina, Nadesja Kibardina, Oga Slyusareva) Germany  v (Judith Arndt, Petra Rossner, Hannerlore Mattig)

The Russian appeared to have little weakness and there was certainly no sign of one here. The Germans put up a good fight, but the Russians were a little faster at each stage. They appeared to ease up near the end but still had nearly two seconds to spare.

Semis

USA v Russia

Two powerful squads slugged it out, but it was the Americans who kept it together better. Twigg – arguably the greatest pursuiter of all-time – was the stand out, but the seond and third strings were arguably stronger than their counterparts too. A 1.5 second margin was decisive and sent notice to potential final opponents.

GBR v Netherlands

The Dutch again went with Haringa and again she gave them a great start. her team led at half way and still had a second lead at 2k. But when the sprinter fell to the wayside, it was two greats versus three and slowly the Brits brought it back. van Moorsel made a massive effort to hold on, but Burton, Romero and Trott took it by a wheel.

Netherlands win bronze on time.

Final

USA v GBR

One team had the best collection of pursuiters, the other has been the dominant force in the Team event. GB started well but never broke free and as the laps wore on, Twigg’s power started to make the difference. The Brits dug in, but to no avail and the Americans were crowned World All-time champs with half a second to spare.

 

All-Time World Track Cycling Champs – Men’s sprint

With the World Champs approaching I thought it might be fun to honour some of the greats of the past by “staging” an “All-time” World champs. I can’t promise to get to every event, but we’ll see where we get to. When assessing athletes from different eras, I find it useful to distinguish between the “greatest” and the “best”. Because of progression in training, sports science and equipment, it’s likely that the “best” or “fastest” in the case of cycling are either today’s champions or those of the recent past. That does not however, necessarily make them the “greatest”. Greatness encompasses a wider set of factors, including dominance, achievement, ability and even style. For the purposes of this championship, I will be using greatness as the currency of choice.

In terms of format, we’ll stick as close to an actual championships as possible, but with modifications where necessary. We’ll limit entries to two per nation, for example and limit the size of fields. But for the timed disciplines we will forego qualifying rounds and move straight into the knock-out phase. So with that, I pronounce the All-Time World Track Cycling Championships to be open!

Men’s Sprint

Round 1

Lutz Hesslich (Ger) v Peder Pederson (Den)

Easy one for the twice Olympic champ Hesslich over 1974 World Pro champ.

Daniel Morelon (Fra) v Denis Dmitrev (Rus)

No problem for the legendary Morelon

Jens Fiedler (Ger) v Omar Pkhak’adze

Fiedler perhaps had more trouble beating Michael Hubner to make the German than he did the Olympic bronze medalist from Georgia.

Antonio Maspes (Ita) v Jan Derksen (Ned)

Maspes’ seven World titles, versus Derksen’s two, tells the take.

Jeff Scherens (Bel) v Marty Northstein (USA)

A good battle, but the 7-times World champ from Belgium had just too much acceleration.

Chris Hoy (GBR) v Theo Bos (Ned)

Two contemporaries slugging it out, but when push came to shove, Hoy generally had the upper hand.

Frank Kramer (USA) v Sergey Kopylev (Rus)

Kopylev mixed it wit the East Germans in the 80s, but couldn’t handle the 1912 World and 16-time US champ.

Reg Harris (GBR) v Patrick Sercu

A great battle between Harris – preferred to Olympic champ Jason Kenny – and Six-day legend Sercu who won three sprint world titles but was probably better in the TT.

Gary Niewand (Aus) v Anton Tkac (Cze)

Mr.Bridesmaid from Australia had just enough to handle the 1976 Olympic champ.

Koichi Nakano (Jap) v Curtis Harnett (Can)

We’ll never know how 10-time World pro champ Nakano would have gone against the great amateurs of his day, but here he handled two-time Olympic sprint bronze medalist Harnett with relative ease.

Florient Rousseu (Fra) v Giuseppe Beghetto (Ita)

A battle of two three-time World champs, but Rousseau’s great strength – as witnessed by Olypic TT and Kierin golds – saw him win through.

Gordon Singleton (Can) v Ryan Bayley (Aus)

Consistent excellence versus a short high peak. The Canadian sneaks this one.

Repechage

Tough racing here, but for heats of three saw Bayley, Tkac, Bos and Beghetto come through.

Round 2

Hesslich v Beghetto

Tougher this time for Hesslich, but advances with something to spare,

Morelon v Bos

Bos had power, but Morelon has too much all around game for the Dutchman

Fiedler v Tkac

The consistent German sails through.

Maspes v Bayley

No trouble for the menacing Italian.

Scherens v Singleton

Scherens jumps Singleton and JUST holds on.

Hoy v Rousseu

Two all around sprint legends, but Hoy brought his A game when it mattered.

Kramer v Nakano

Those who doubted the credentials of teh Japanese pro got an answer here as the American legend was swept aside.

Harris v Niewand

Two great Olympic silver medalists. But Harris has the better CV overall.

Quarters

Hesslich v Harris

A battle to the end, but Hesslich, who might have won three Olympic golds but for the boycott in 84, prevailed in the end.

Morelon v Nakano

A heavyweight battle in which the French amateur star sneaks by the pro champ.

Fiedler v Hoy

An upset here.Twice Olympic, but never World sprint champ Fielder, is overhauled by Hoy, the only man to win Olympic titles in all four sprint disciplines.

Maspes v Scherens

Two champions of yesteryear battling to the end, with the Italian squeezing through in a nail-biter.

Semis

Hesslich v Maspes

Even the formidable Italian can’t stop the Hesslich train.

Morelon v Hoy

Pure sprinter versus all round speedster. Grater actical experience sees Morelon through.

Bronze match

Maspes v Hoy

Lack of sprint experience again sees Hoy lose out.

Gold match

Hesslich v Morelon

There can’t be too much doubt that these are the two greatest sprinters of all-time. Both won two Olympic golds and while Morelon also won silver, Hesslich was denied the opportunity of three in a row by the Moscow boycott. He would almost certainly have bettered champion Mark Gorski, but his East German team mates, as well as Kopylev would have ensured the title was not a formality. Morelon won nine amateur titles and generally unbeatable in his prime, whereas Hesslich won four and was runner up three times. Those defeats leeave just enough room for Morelon to sneak through and claim the all-time crown.