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Work to do

Opening night of cycling trials produces slow times

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Posted: Wednesday April 26, 2000 12:56 AM

  Megan Troxell Megan Troxell posts the fastest time of 3:47.137 in the Women's Individual 3000m Pursuit. AP

FRISCO, Texas (AP) -- Good thing the American cyclists have five months to improve their times for the Sydney Olympics.

The U.S. track cycling trials opened Tuesday night with Karen Kurreck of Los Altos, Calif., winning the women's individual pursuit and Sky Christopherson of Tucson, Ariz., taking the men's kilometer time trial.

Kurreck's time of 3 minutes, 47.538 seconds was more than 10 seconds behind the qualifying standard for the U.S. long team, a pool of cyclists eligible for Olympic consideration.

Christopherson won his race in 1:05.044, slightly more than two seconds behind the long team qualifying mark.

But there was a good reason the times were slow.

The U.S. Olympic trials came early in the racing season, in part because the U.S. coaches want to consider performances in World Cup events as well as training and trials results before naming the team in July.

"It's early in the year," said Erin Veenstra-Mirabella of Colorado Springs, who was third in individual pursuit at 3:50.721. "After we get a few World Cup races, the Olympic picture should be a little clearer."

The long team qualifying times, established by U.S. Cycling, are based on projected medal results at the Sydney Games. To reach those marks, a racer would need one of the world's best times for the year.

Kurreck is safe because she's already on the long team as a road racer. But she wanted to qualify on the track, too, and practiced only two days in Texas after taking a break from her road racing team in Italy.

"I did my first pursuit race in two years this morning in qualifying. It took a little getting used to again," said Kurreck, who placed second in individual pursuit on the Frisco track at 1998 nationals.

Kurreck had a demanding ride. Twenty minutes after racing, she collapsed on the infield grass because of cramps. Paramedics rushed over to help, and she was walking a few minutes later.

In individual pursuit, two racers start from opposite sides of the track and race for the fastest times. The race ends at three kilometers or when one cyclist passes the other.

The kilometer time trial is cycling's version of the 400 meters in track and field. It's a sprint that requires pacing, but any competitor who doesn't go hard gets left behind.

The men's kilometer race will have a different look in Sydney after two-time Olympic medalist Erin Hartwell of Indianapolis moved to endurance events. Christopherson is the early U.S. favorite after no one could match his time.


 
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