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Britain Dominates Olympic Track Cycling Events


Britain finished off a dominating performance in track cycling at the Beijing Olympics by capturing the final two Olympic gold medals up for grabs. VOA Sports Editor Parke Brewer saw the action at the Laoshan Velodrome in suburban Beijing and has a report.

When most people think about bicycle racing, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the Tour de France, or other multi-stage and single-day races that are held on streets, roads and highways.

But track cycling is also a big part of the Olympic Games. The riders speed around a steeply-banked 250-meter wooden surface oval at an indoor venue known as a velodrome. They pedal specialized bicycles that have no brakes, and most of them wear space-age-looking helmets and tight one-piece body suits to cut down on air resistance.

The feature event, and the one that wrapped up the final night of track cycling in Beijing, was the sprint. It's a best two out of three races covering three laps.

Britain took both gold medals, with Victoria Pendleton beating Australian Anne Meares in two races, and Chris Hoy needing only two races to defeat countryman Jason Kenny.

British cyclists were clearly the best over the five days of action. They won seven of the 10 events, three silver medals and two bronze for 12 total. Spain was next best with three medals, two of them gold.

After her race, Pendleton talked about her team's success.

"Well, I think it's a combination of things, really," said Victoria Pendleton. "I think we're lucky enough to have drawn on some real specialists to come and work with us - the psychologists, the nutritionists and the English Institute of Sport. And there are a lot of different factors that we now have that have improved our performance I think just in sort of marginal ways in lots of different places. And I think the team atmosphere is so good and everyone draws on each other's success."

The other final held earlier Tuesday night was the men's Madison, which is a points race for two-man teams covering 50 kilometers, or 200 laps of the track. Points are awarded for sprints, which occur every 20 laps.

Fernando Perez and Juan Curuchet were victorious, giving Argentina its first gold medal of the Beijing Olympics.

Perez said it was a great achievement.

"We already have one bronze, and we probably still have a few medal prospects in some of the professional sports, football and basketball, but to get one in an amateur sport, a sport that doesn't receive as much support in Argentina is absolutely brilliant," said Fernando Perez. "And my colleague and myself have been working hard since the last Olympic Games to try and get one. So understandably we're delighted."

The silver medal went to the two riders from Spain (Joan Llaneras and Antonio Tauler) and the Russian duo (Mikhail Ignatyev and Alexei Markov) got the bronze.

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