Mon, Aug 23, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Fiedler's third gold separates him from the ordinary cyclist


Jens Fiedler became one of the greatest cyclists in Olympic history on Saturday, winning his third gold medal in a 12-year career by leading off the German sprint team on its way to victory over Japan.

In his last Olympics, the German veteran might still race in the Keirin and sprint events, possibly allowing him to beat the overall total of four golds and a bronze set by Marcus Hurley of the US in 1904.

If he decides against it, he said, winning team sprint gold ``would be a wonderful end to my career.''

Apart from his 1992 and 1996 sprint world titles to add to Saturday's gold, Fiedler also has two bronzes from the Sydney Games.

In women's cycling, Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel is already unmatched in Olympic history with four golds and a silver.

In her last Olympic event, she failed to reach the gold medal race of the 3-kilometer pursuit, and would race for bronze yesterday.

In qualifying, New Zealander Sarah Ulmer set a world record and later qualified for the final against Australia's Katie Mactier. It further highlighted the exceptional quality of the Olympic Velodrome, which had been heavily criticized in the run-up to the games.

Bradley Wiggins gave Britain a second track cycling title in as many days, holding off a mid-race challenge from Australian Brad McGee to take the 4-kilometer pursuit gold. Sergi Escobar of Spain won the bronze.

Fiedler, 34, set off the three-man sprint team and kept it just about level with the Japanese after one lap. Stefan Nimke and Rene Wolff finished off the hard work.

With his legs growing older, Fiedler knew the team sprint offered his best hope to add another gold. "I was training on the starting jumps every day," he said.

In the 4-kilometer pursuit, Wiggins finished in 4 minutes, 16.304 seconds, more than a second slower that the Olympic record he set a day earlier but nevertheless beating the Australian by over four seconds.

The time trial specialists linked arms after the race and rode together around the track in celebration.

Wiggins had centered his life on winning gold since he was 12 and saw Chris Boardman win gold at the Barcelona Olympics.

Wiggins took an early one-second lead in the race, but McGee started coming back, slowly closing the gap to .3 seconds around the halfway stage. At that point, Wiggins found his second wind and sped off toward the title.

Wiggins, the son of a pro track rider, was the 2003 world champion and showed his potential during qualifying by setting an Olympic record. He already won bronze in the team pursuit in Sydney.

McGee already was a triple bronze medalist in the Olympics, finishing third in the pursuit in Atlanta and Sydney. He also added a team pursuit bronze at the 1996 Games.

He has proven throughout his career that he is a great all-rounder. He briefly wore the pink jersey of the Italian Giro this year, where he finished eighth. He also wore the yellow jersey in the Tour de France last year after winning the time-trial prologue of the event.

World champions and world record holders Australia looked in gold-medal winning form in qualifying for the men's 4000-metre teams pursuit at the Athens Olympics on Sunday.

The crack team of Graeme Brown, Peter Dawson, Brett Lancaster and Stephen Wooldridge clocked a sizzling four minutes 00.613 seconds.

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