World track champs day 4: Pendleton wins gold, but she's pushed all the way

But men finish out of the medals in sprint and madison

by Tony Farrelly   March 28, 2009  

2009 world track champs logo crop.jpg

The pattern of these track world championships continued for Team GB in Poland today: promise falling short for the men while one of Britain's women again delivered a medal. This time it was Victoria Pendleton who was forced to do it the hard way in the sprint final but still came through to become the only one of last year's Olympic champions, from any nation, to win a World Championship this year.

While it was again Pendleton's day, that was not the case for the duo of Mark Cavendish and fellow Manxman, Peter Kennaugh. Things were looking good towards the middle of the race with a reasonable stack of points scored and the pair looking to gain a lap which would surely have put them in the medal placings. However, as they prepared for the break Kennaugh was brought down heavily by another crashing rider, resulting in his bike disintegrating spectacularly as he slid down the track, being hit by another rider on the way. They make 'em tough on the Isle of Man and the 19 year old was back in the race on a spare bike almost immediately. The meant their chance was gone and in the end they had to settle for sixth place behind Denmark, Australia, the Czech Replublic, Germany and Italy.

Pendleton won her semi-final two nil against Olga Panarina of Belorussia, but both races were extremely close and indeed in the arena the initially gave the first to Panarina. In the final she came up against the young Dutch woman Willy Kanis who qualified for the knockout rounds via the repechage. Kanis disposed of Simonia Krupeckaite in her semi – the woman who it was thought would push Pendleton to the limit in the final. As it was Kanis did that.

The former world BMX champion lost the first race by the narrowest of margins to Pendleton, before levelling things up in the second race to take things to a third race decider. In the final race she again forced Pendleton around the outside and with metres to go it looked to be Kanis's title, but Pendleton never knows when she is beaten snatching the gold by barely a handful of centimetres on the line.

Three Brits – Ross Edgar, Matt Crampton, and Jason Kenny – made it through to the quarter finals of the men's sprint where they faced two Frenchmen and Malaysian, the final race being a French – Australian face off. None of the Britons made it through to the semis. Edgar went down to Malaysian rider Azizulhasni Awang in the third race while Grégory Bauge disposed of Kenny in two and Kévin Sireau did the same to Crampton.

The best display by a British male rider on the night was left to Mark Cavendish, and that was the replay of him winning Milan San Remo last week when being interviewed by Simon Brotherton. Cavendish then proceeded to spell out exactly how high track cycling figures on his current list of priorities by again saying that he'd come here for a “rest week” from the road, and he would only be teaming up with Kennaugh for the Commenwealth cames to represent the Isle of Man if his professional schedule permitted. Cavendish may have surprised everyone by turning up, but it was clearly all on his terms.