Cheatley unplaced in points race

Last updated 00:59 19/08/2008
MISSED OUT: New Zealand's disappointment in the Olympic points race continued last night when Catherine Cheatley finished at the tail of the women's field in Beijing.

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New Zealand's disappointment in the Olympic points race continued last night when Catherine Cheatley finished at the tail of the women's field in Beijing.

The Invercargill-based cyclist was unable to feature in any of the sprints at the Laoshan velodrome and crossed in 17th place.

But it was always going to be a tough ride in a points race littered with cycling stars.

Russia's defending Olympic champion, Olga Slyusareva, two-time world champion Vera Carrara from Italy and reigning world champion Marianne Vos from the Netherlands spearheaded the crack field.

Eventual winner, Vos made her intentions clear from the start, gaining maximum points on the first sprint after 10 laps and tried to maintain a gap from the peloton where Cheatley found herself in the middle of.

The Dutch cyclist and three others including Australia's Kate Bates, Spain's Leire Olaberria, Cuba's Yoanka Gonzalez attempted to put the first decisive break on the peloton and were all in the points for the second sprint, setting her up for an early lead.

But she found some competition in Columbian cyclist Maria Luisa Calle who after Vos, who won the Olympic test event on the same track eight months ago, made her winning break on lap 37 when she took the race by the scruff.

The peloton let her go, and the reigning champion gained almost half a lap very quickly through her powerful acceleration as she pushed hard to put a lap on the rest of the field.

By the time the bell went sounding the seventh sprint she had gained 20 extra points and the gold medal was all but around her neck.

With just two sprints remaining Vos was still 17 points clear of Gonzalez with Calle a further point back in third place.

Individual pursuit gold medallist Rebecca Romero, who had not been in the sprint points leading into the half way mark of the race, attempted to catch Vos but her legs were not willing as Vos kept a check on any break aways.

The race for the minor medals came down to the final sprint with Gonzalez pipping Olaberria for the silver medal.

Cheatley's chances in last night's race may have been scuttled as early as January however, when a large chunk of her Olympic campaign was put on ice.

Last year's world championship bronze medallist needed surgery on her leg to help improve circulation.

She damaged a vein in her left thigh when she crashed in a race in the United States.

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The operation required a piece of vein from her ankle being attached to the main artery in the thigh to help supply blood to the leg.

It was successful but her recuperation put her Games selection at threat.

Cheatley returned to the road to prove her fitness and was selected after showing form in the States.

She was 53rd in the women's road race near the Great Wall on the first day of Games competition 10 days ago but had been eyeing the points race in her specialist event.

Meanwhile, Greg Henderson and Roulston will be back in action tonight for the men's madison in the last of competition at the track.

Henderson will be looking to overcome the disappointments of his ride in the men's points race when he had to settle for 10th place.

But with the Kiwi duo up against nations who are now specialising in the team race, will find it tough with world champions Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins favoured to add to Great Britain's medal haul at the velodrome.

- Fairfax Media

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