Cycling World Champs – Night 4

Track Cycling World Championships – Night 4

Patrick O’Keeffe

April 8th 2012


The penultimate night of competition at the 2012 Track Cycling World Championships was really something to behold. Devastated at missing out in the Women’s Sprint the previous night, Anna Meares produced a stunning turnaround to claim the Kierin world title. Cameron Meyer looked gone for all money in the 40km Points Race, however came from nowhere to lap the field and steal victory from British rider Ben Swift. To top it off, Michael Hepburn defeated close friend and housemate Jack Bobridge in the 4000m Individual Pursuit, when it looked as if Bobridge had the race won at the halfway point.


The Kierin involves a guy on a motorised bike, decked out in all black, putting around the track for a few laps with 6 super-fit sprinters riding in his slipstream. He then pulls off the track, and the sprinters go bananas. Anna Meares, sitting comfortably towards the back of the group, launched a ruthless attack with a lap to go and didn’t look back. The challenges kept coming down the final straight, but Meares saw them off with great strength, pumping her fist as she crossed the line. Meares shows so much heart. A truly sensational bike rider. I overhear a person telling SBS presenter Kate Bates to “not make her cry again.” A tough assignment, as it really is an emotional moment.


Meares is triumphant after the win. With emphasis, she says, “I fought hard.” You can’t disagree. “I’m really proud that I was able to pick myself up. I really had to dig deep against Kristina Vogel from Germany for that last lap.” Discussing the disappointment of the previous night, Meares describes sitting in an ice bath, playing the race over in her head. “It’s a challenge to find it within yourself to let it go.” The champion she is, she let it go with style.


Michael Hepburn and Jack Bobridge then face off in the individual pursuit gold medal race. The crowd is subdued early. They don’t know who to cheer for, so cheers are held back. Current world champion Bobridge jumps away to an early lead. He is so strong; it is hard to see Hepburn coming back into the race. A two second lead which looked insurmountable is gradually eaten away. The crowd, who love an underdog, start cheering Hepburn. He looks the smoother rider. He waits until the final 250m to gain the ascendancy and hangs on for the win. Graciously, Bobridge says “Hep is like a brother to me. Seeing him win is just as good as me winning.”


Cameron Meyer steps onto the track for the 40km Points Race. This race involves 160 laps of the track, with points to be gained in 16 sprints across the journey. Winning a sprint earns a rider 5 points; with 3, 2 and 1 points going to the next across the line. To lap the field is to gain 20 points. Sort of like a really big ladder in Snakes and Ladders, taking you to within a dice roll of victory.


West Australian Meyer, who has won more world titles at the age of 23 than I’ve had hot dinners, is a marked man in this race. He is trying everything, constantly near the front and working towards a break away. The field always close him down. He keeps persisting. Nevertheless, he is not succeeding. He is placed 6th with 20 laps remaining. Seemingly, he cannot win. The field is all over him.


Meyer tries one last time, with 17 laps to go. British rider Ben Swift tries to go with him. Meyer moves again, this time, only Aaron Gate of New Zealand can match his intensity. The crowd noise is deafening. They are on their feet. It is really something to behold. I think that he is no chance for the win. There aren’t enough points left to be gained. Still he goes. There is only 4 laps left in the race. Finally I work out what is happening. Meyer is lapping the field. He is moving with power that you wouldn’t bet against him. The Belgian rider Kenny de Ketele, currently sitting in the gold medal position, is trying desperately to move the field along and fend off Meyer. Meyer catches them with 500m to go. Absolutely remarkable. The noise from the crowd is just unbelievable. Meyer wins the world title. You have never seen anything like it.









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