Gold and bronze for the home squad on the first day of the European Championships Track Cycling in Apeldoorn
`A better start to the tournament was hardly possible. Gold for Kirsten Wild at the point’s race and bronze for the men’s team pursuit.
The final few hundred meters by Kirsten Wild on Friday evening were both exciting and impressive. She knew that she had to finish in front of Great Britain’s Dani King so Wild opted for a very long sprint. She succeeded and took her first big title on the track. When Kirsten Wild made her debut two years ago, she won bronze at the omnium. Her point’s race was worth a title but the UEC regulations decide that the event is not an official championship. Nevertheless Kirsten was on the podium, with a jersey and a medal. She was rightfully happy with her achievement. “Title or no official title, this is really cool,” the Argos-Shimano rider said.
To have a chance to win the event she opted for the tactics that would save her energy, hoping it would give her a little boost to go for a lap. There was no opportunity to take a lap so Wild decided to sprint for the points. A national record does not result in a a medal but fast times do. Therefore the national team pursuit coach had a smile on his face this Friday. His boys got to step on the podium. Tim Veldt, Dion Beukeboom, Roy Eefting and Jenning Huizenga didn’t only exceed their own expectations but also those of the audience by winning the bronze medal.
4.03,818. That was the national time of the Dutch team since the Olympic Games of London. In the build up towards this EC the team coaches hoped the team pursuit would break that record.
“That’s why I say now that winning the bronze doesn’t really make up for not taking a new national record,” Jabik-Jan Bastiaanse said. “We didn’t get to do any competition for the past five months, for various reasons. We only got to train. Every month the boys came in for a week to work on this event. There was science involved and we practiced different strategies. Everyone committed to this event and that’s why rewards like this one are very welcome.”
The Dutch quartet had to start first in the qualifiers. Their time, just under 4,07 resulted in unhappy faces. They knew several top countries were still to come. The difficult circumstances in Omnisport proved the same for many other teams too and the Dutch time resisted. Only Russia and Great Britain were faster.
The third qualifying time meant a place in the 3/4 finals for the Netherlands and that was a fine result. When it ended with a great race, the thought of a new national record disappeared a bit. “Though it does remain a goal.”
In the women’s team sprint Dutch duo Elis Ligtlee and Shanne Braspenninckx got to ride the 3/4 final too. They had to compete against Becky James and Jess Varnish. The youngsters from Holland managed to ride a 34,235 but it wasn’t enough. The British duo rode to bronze with their 33,771. After a short moment of disappointment, Els and Shanne were smiling again. After all they did succeed in their goald and that was a place in the top 4.
Photo: Gert Bonestroo - GeeBeeFoto