Mixed fortunes in the velodrome

October 7, 2010

A silver medal in the women’s team sprint got Team Scotland’s cyclists on the medals table in the Delhi velodrome. But there was disappointment for the Team Scotland flag bearer, Ross Edgar, who crashed out of the keirin at the semi-final stage, but bounced back in the evening to qualify for Thursday’s sprint quarter-finals.

Jenny Davis and Charline Joiner were the duo who contested the new event on the Commonwealth Games programme, the women’s team sprint. And they did well to qualify for the final, going faster in the two-lap race than both Canada and India to earn a ride-off for gold with Australia.

With a medal guaranteed, they put in their best ride of the series, with Davis leading out, and Joiner taking over for the second and final lap. Despite going faster than ever in the final they couldn’t match the Australians, but they were more than happy with their silver medals a little over six months after they began preparing for the event.

“It feels amazing,” said Joiner. “This time last year I’d never have believed I’d get to the Commonwealth Games, never mind get a medal. I’m very happy with our ride.

“When I realised we were in the final I was in tears, I was really overwhelmed,” she continued. “We weren’t thinking about getting to the final, just about going for a PB so I think we’ve done as well as we could have done. I had a bit of Delhi belly last night, and I was up through the night not feeling well. So to win a silver medal is really amazing – I can’t believe it.”

Davis, a former judo player who only missed the 2002 Commonwealth Games after suffering an injury, was equally shocked. “I was a judo player for 18 years, so it’s been quite a journey for me,” said Davies. “This time last year I had no chance of qualifying, but they added this event in February and Charline and I began training for it.

“I would say we’ve practiced our starts – with me leading out the start gate, and Charline getting on my wheel – at least two hundred times in the last six months. In the first round I had some nerves in the start gate, but in the final I got out as clean as I’ve ever done.

“The experiences I’ve had in judo helped me get here,” added Davis. “But we have a great support team, and I have to thank Marco Librizzi, who wrote the training programme that allowed me to peak here.”

There was bad luck for Kate Cullen and Eileen Roe in the women’s points race, with Cullen not managing to repeat her bronze medal in the same event four years ago, and Roe – who’d also been feeling unwell – dropping out.

Both women’s and men’s points races saw world class fields, and in the men’s event, won in outstanding fashion by Australian world champion Cameron Meyer, Evan Oliphant rode aggressively to finish sixth.

“I missed out last time on a medal by one point, so I’m really disappointed,” said Oliphant. “A medal’s what I came for, and I’ll have a go in [Friday’s] scratch race now.

“It was a brutal race, harder than four years ago,” he continued. “It was full on all the time. The field was as good as you’d get in a world championship final – there weren’t many guys missing. I knew the race would be about [gaining] laps, not winning sprints, so I didn’t go for sprints. Towards the end I was waiting for the right opportunity, but it didn’t come.”

Edgar, meanwhile, was battered but not broken by his high speed crash in the keirin semi-final, which came on the last lap, as they raced at around 45mph.

“I’m obviously disappointed not to make the final,” said Edgar. “I was a bit unlucky with the crash, I was thinking I was in a good position, but kind of forgetting the South African guy would start to come back. There was a massive squeeze on that final bend, and down I went.

“It wasn’t anyone’s fault,” Edgar continued. “It’s just one of those things that happens when you’re racing and it’s as tight as that. I landed on the South African [Bernard Esterhuizen], so I had a soft landing. I bruised my calf, but that was it. I felt a bit sorry for the guy, because I was sliding down the track on top of him.

“The keirin’s my favourite event, so I’m quite disappointed,” added Edgar. “But I’ll do my best in the sprint.

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