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Bayley the boss in cycling sprint


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Bayley confirmed Australia's track cycling dominance with sprint gold
SPECIAL REPORT
• Olympics 2004: Special report 

ATHENS, Greece -- Ryan Bayley upset Dutch world champion Theo Bos 2-1 in the track sprint final for Australia's fourth gold of the Olympic cycling tournament in Athens on Tuesday.

And veteran Lori-Ann Muenzer beat Russia's Tamilla Abassova to take the women's race, capping an injury-hit career at 38 with her first major title and Canada's first cycling gold.

Russian teen Mikhail Ignatyev upset the favorites to win gold in the points race, relying on his endurance to beat Spain's Joan Llaneras and German Guido Fulst.

Bos showed his remarkable resilience in the first heat of the gold medal match.

Bayley had created a sizable gap coming into the final 250-meter lap, but the Dutchman got ever closer and with a final thrust of his bike, threw his front wheel across the finish, centimeters ahead of the Australian.

The second heat was just as close, this time with Bayley coming back and whipping his wheel up in the air at the line in a final thrust which gave victory by less than half a wheel.

The decider was tense throughout and Bayley came higher off the bank to beat Bos in the final straight.

His clenched fist was already in the air when he crossed the line to the cheers of hundreds of Australians at the Olympic Velodrome.

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Veteran Muenzer gave Canada a first Olympic cycling gold

It was Australia's fourth title in cycling so far in Athens while German Rene Wolff took bronze.

Muenzer won the women's sprint final in convincing fashion, controlling both heats in the final to beat Russia's Tamilla Abassova -- a woman 16 years younger -- and ride her way into the record books.

For the 38-year-old Canadian, the chance to create history almost never came after a\ series of crashes.

But she rode through it all with the hopes of Olympic glory and finally, after 15 years, her moment came.

"To be mentioned in the same breath as some of the greats of Canadian cycling is truly amazing. I can't believe it," she said shortly after Oh Canada blared through the Olympic veledrome for the first time.

"If you told me 10 years ago that it would take this long, I would have challenged you on that one. I just can't believe it finally happened," she said.

"This is an historic moment for this sport in Canada. The personal work it took Lori-Ann is unbelievable. I hope it spurs the sport in our country," said Curt Harnett, who won three Olympic medals - though none a gold - in his career.

Ignatyev gave his nation their first medal of the Olympic track cycling competition ahead of defending Olympic champion Llaneras.

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Russia must thank teen Ignatyev for their first cycling medal -- a gold

Milton Wynants of Uruguay, a silver medalist in Sydney and at the world championships in May, could only manage ninth behind 19-year-old Ignatyev.

World champion Franck Perque also finished well off the pace, compounding a miserable Games for the traditionally strong French cycling team.

Wynants, the early leader in the 160-lap race around the Athens velodrome, was the first to lap the field twice.

But Llaneras, Fulst and Ignatyev caught him half way through and the Russian went from strength to strength ending as the only man to lap the pack four times.

"The first part of the race was very tight but half way through I really felt as though I was getting stronger, he said. "I knew that if I could hold on I had a good chance."

"To win today is such a great feeling. It's really difficult to describe."


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