Women's Sprint - UCI World Cup, London

Event -
UCI Track Cycling World Cup Series

UCI Event UCI World Cup, London
17th-19th February 2012
London, UK



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17th February 2012

UCI EventWomen's Team Pursuit
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18th February 2012

UCI EventWomen's Pursuit
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UCI EventMen's Keirin
UCI EventWomen's Sprint
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19th February 2012

UCI EventMen's Team Pursuit
UCI EventWomen's Omnium
UCI EventWomen's Keirin
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Guo Beats Meares for Sprint Gold


Guo Beats Meares for Sprint Gold

18th February 2012: Reigning world champion, Australian Anna Meares and Great Britain's Olympic champion Victorian Pendleton staged an epic duel in the women's sprint competition but neither walked away with gold on day three of the final round of the UCI Track World Cup Series on London's Olympic Velodrome.

That honour went to China's Shuang Guo while Meares claimed silver and Pendleton finished fourth behind Hong Kong surprise packet Wai Sze Lee.

Meares and Pendleton are cycling royalty who between them have won dozens of world and Olympic medals and their encounter in tonight's sprint semi-finals will go down as one of the most hard fought contest.

"I don't think I've seen in the history of women's sprinting three matches go 11.3, 11.1, 11.2 (seconds for the final 200 metres) so we really pushed each other to the limits but unfortunately we paid for it in the medal rounds," said Meares after being beaten in two straight heats by Guo, the 2008 Olympic Games sprint bronze medallist.

But the story began earlier in the day when Meares clocked an Australian record time of 10.939 seconds for the flying 200 metres to be top seed and the only rider to break 11 seconds in the sprint qualifying round. Pendleton meantime qualified fourth fastest in 11.111 putting the pair on a collision course for a semi-final battle.

Both comfortably dispensed with their rivals in the early rounds to set up what would prove to be the feature bout of the evening session of racing.

"I felt a bit nervous, I felt very excited, I felt prepared, I was prepared for anything. I haven't raced Victoria since the world championships almost a year ago," said Meares who in 2011 beat Pendleton in three before going on to win the sprint world title in two straight heats over Simona Krupeckaite of Lithuania.

"I was expecting her, off the back of the fantastic team sprint she and Jess Varnish rode yesterday, to have some fantastic form and I wasn't let down."

In their first encounter Meares led out and kept Pendleton high on the track smoothly increasing her pace to propel herself into the bell lap with too much speed for Pendleton who couldn't get around her. In the second heat Pendleton led out and on the first lap stalled in the back straight in a bid to force Meares to the front but the Australian held her nerve until she was ready to pounce. However Pendleton was ready this time and latched onto Meares' rear wheel before powering past her on the line to even the score.

The two warriors then retreated to separate corners of the track for a 15 minute respite like prize fighters who had gone nine rounds in the ring and were still even on points.

In the third and deciding race Meares shadowed Pendleton's every move until the bell lap when she spotted a gap and went for it diving down the track and underneath Pendleton whose reaction time was too slow to counter the move which sealed the win for Meares.

"I saw an opportunity and when you see an opportunity you have to take it," said Meares. "I'm not sure whether she saw me or not or saw me late but I just had to commit, I was on an angle that was quite precarious but I did have right of way in the sprint lane and (I'm) very proud that I didn't hesitate on that one and made the move.

"You couldn't hear it but I was down the back straight going 'Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh', she said screaming and motioning as if throwing the handlebars from side to side. "I was just trying to get everything I could out of it (because) I knew she was coming.

"But that's what you have to do at these sort of competitions you've got to find another level and you have to challenge yourself and I believe I did that tonight."

However the energy expended in the semi-finals left her little in the tank for the gold medal final which for her came just six minutes later.

"That's nasty, that's nasty in anyone's books," said Meares of the compressed world cup sprint program. "It's just a challenge and I had to go out and deal with it as best I could and unfortunately Guo dealt with it much better than I but I think I'll be better for it.

"That's the name of the game and it could happen at Olympic Games (that I) draw the toughest girl in the field in the semis but still have to back up for the final," said Meares. "Guo had two races in her semis but that's just the way the cookie crumbles.

"When you're physically fatigued it then becomes difficult to mentally make the decisions required on the flip of a coin. You have to think so quickly when you're legs are burning and your head's going, 'No, go go go, you're fighting with yourself'," said the Beijing silver medallist. "I've taken a lot from it and I'm very proud of how I held myself physically, emotional and mentally to get through."

Meares believes the events so far, which also saw her and team mate Kaarle McCulloch go up against Pendleton and Jessica Varnish in the team sprint final won by the home team, have provided invaluable experience ahead of the Olympic Games.

"In the pits you're hearing the 'gong, gong, gong' of Big Ben over the speakers and it sounds a little like The Undertaker coming from the WWE," said Meares applying a wrestling rather than boxing comparison to the contest. "But that's what I wanted, that's what I needed to experience if I'm going to come back for the Olympic Games and be as prepared as I possibly can be. I couldn't have asked for anything better."

Pendleton, Meares and Guo were on the podium in Beijing and Meares says she's not surprised they are on track to be the riders to watch in London.

"This is a sport that is very responsive to age and to time. It's not something where you can click your fingers and have strength and speed and power and experience and ability to be able to apply it on the track, it takes time and if you stick around the sport long enough you're going to be able to see those improvements consistently roll throughout your career," she said. "Vicki, Guo and myself have been around a long while and we're always trying to raise that bar higher and push ourselves."

Some key contenders were missing tonight including Krupeckaite and Olga Panarina who have both performed well at earlier World Cup rounds this season.

McCulloch clocked the tenth fastest qualifying time of 11.318 and won through in her first round match up but was outgunned by an in form Lee in the quarter finals and ended the sprint competition in eighth place.

Women's Sprint - UCI World Cup, London Results

1. Shuang Guo (China)
2. Anna Meares (Australia)
3. Wai Sze Lee (Hong Kong)
4. Victoria Pendleton (Great Britain)

Full Results - Tissot Timing Results

Content - Cycling Australia


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