Records expected to fall at new Olympic track


Track cycling could be set for an Olympic boost when a host of world records are expected to fall at London’s new state of the art velodrome.
After four days of racing at the final World Cup event of the season, an official Olympic test event, only two world records were set in London’s east end last weekend.
Yet that number is expected to increase significantly as intense rivalry and the ‘curing’ of the wooden boards covering the largely oval 250-metre track come into play this August.
On Friday Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch set a new world mark of 32.828sec in the two-lap team sprint, a time beaten in the final by Great Britain’s Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish, who clocked 32.754.
In another women’s event, the 12-lap team pursuit, it was more of the same.
After Australia’s three-women team had set a new record of 3:19.164, Britain went on to win the final in a new time of 3:18.148.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) sanctions world records in a total of 12 track events, eight of which are on the Olympic programme. Arguably the most coveted record to hold in Olympic track is in the team pursuit.
On Sunday, the Australian quartet of Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, Alexander Edmondson and Michael Hepburn scorched to 3:54 — the third-fastest time recorded for the 4km event — to beat Britain, and threaten the world record of 3:53.314 the Brits set on their way to Olympic gold in Beijing four years ago.
Experts estimate that teams will have to clock around 3:50 to win Olympic gold in the 4km men’s event.
Bobridge, the world record holder in the non-Olympic event of the individual pursuit (4:10.532), says that is a near certainty.
“It’s only a new track, and for the track to be that fast already, with it being so new, is a good sign of things to come,” Bobridge told AFP.
“Give it another six months for the boards to cure and a bit more racing on it, and come the Games there will be pretty good times for sure.” For American pursuit specialist Sarah Hammer the London velodrome is particularly kind to pursuiters.
“Obviously it’s very round, a good pursuiters track… one you can keep full gas on all the way around,” said Hammer, who hopes the reputation of the women’s team pursuit event benefits in London.
“We’re a new event, it’s thrilling that we get to do it as women. I would expect and hope we have the same high achievement for the times.”
Specialists in the speed events meanwhile were happy with the chance to test their tactics on the steep banking and home straights of the velodrome — made from 56km of sustainably-sourced Siberian pine and some 350,000 nails.
Jason Kenny is battling British teammate Sir Chris Hoy for the sole sprinter’s spot available in the event at the Games, and said: “A lot of tracks we’ve been racing on have quite longer (home) straights, and when you’re in a match sprint and leading out and trying to overtake someone it does change the characteristics of the race and you just have to race accordingly.
“It’s just a learning curve really. It’s been really good to get on the track and experience some fast racing ahead of the Olympics.” Kenny was recently awarded the sprint world title after France’s Gregory Bauge was stripped of the rainbow jersey for a doping rule misdemeanour.
In London both riders are sure to represent their respective countries in the team sprint, an event in which Britain are Olympic champions and France are world champions.
“It’s a nice track,” Bauge told AFP after his team took silver behind Germany on Saturday.
“It feels really good to ride on and with the atmosphere and the heat, plus a little medal motivation from us, I think we can go much faster in London.”