Hong Kong riders bite the dust as Diao Xiaojuan finishes eighth in women’s scratch at Worlds
Hong Kong rider unable to get near the medals on the first day of the UCI Track Cycling World Championships as Australia almost break the world record in the men’s team pursuit
Hong Kong riders found the going tough on the opening of the UCI Track Cycling World Championships with Diao Xiaojuan finishing eighth in the women’s scratch on a day the Australian men’s team pursuit came close to breaking the world record.
Diao won the same event in a World Cup series race in 2014, but received a reality check with the standard at the Worlds much higher, managing eighth out of 22 riders at the Tseung Kwan O Velodrome. It was still her best finish at the Worlds after launching two lively but unsuccessful attacks in the 40-lap, 10km race.
“My first attack was a bit early and I couldn’t last very long. Maybe I was getting a bit over excited in front of the home crowd,” she said of the championships, which are being held in Hong Kong for the first time.
“I was hoping for a podium finish. It was a bit disappointing that I couldn’t do it, although an eighth position is a creditable finish.”
The race was won by Rachele Barbieri of Italy, with Elinor Barker of Great Britain and Belgium’s Jolien D’Hoore taking silver and bronze respectively.
Australia set the pace at the championships with the quartet of Sam Welsford, Cameron Meyer, Kelland O’Brien and Alexander Porter finishing less than a second outside the world record set by Great Britain at the Rio Games last summer.
The Aussies topped the qualifiers in the four-kilometre race with a time of three minutes and 50.577 seconds, outside the world mark 3:50.265. They will be favourites in the gold medal race on Thursday.
Two other events completed the opening day, with Daria Shmeleva and Anastasiia Voinova of Russia snatching the women’s team sprint gold when they defeated Australia in the final. The men’s team sprint was won by Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Edward Dawkins of New Zealand after beating the Netherlands in the final.
The Hong Kong men’s pursuit team, featuring Leung Chun-wing, Ko Siu-wai, Leung Ka-yu and Mow Ching-yin, finished 16th in the qualifiers with a time of 4:11.086, five seconds adrift of their record set in the 2013 National Games.
In the women’s team pursuit, home favourites Yang Qianyu, Diao Xiaojuan, Pang Yao and Leung Po-yee finished 13th in 4:35.949.
Meanwhile, Kristina Vogel of Germany was given a psychological boost as she prepares for her sprint showdown with Hong Kong’s Sarah Lee Wai-sze on Thursday.
The muscular Germany was voted first fellow female athletes to become a member of the International Cycling Union Athletes’ Commission ahead of Lee, who finished third in voting.
Kenny De Ketele of Belgium came out on top in men’s voting.