The United States Cycling Team claimed its first world title of the 2010 UCI Track Cycling World Championships on Wednesday as Sarah Hammer
(Temecula, Calif./American Track Foundation) re-claimed the rainbow jersey in the women's individual pursuit. Her gold-medal performance marked her fourth visit to the podium at the world championships after winning back-to-back world titles in 2006 and 2007 and earning the silver in 2008.
"Every world title is special, but this one is awesome," explained Hammer of her third pursuit world title. "This means so much after such a long road back from the tragic 2008 season. I really take time to enjoy the entire process now. My new current set-up at the World Cycling has been great; giving me the opportunity to train with and mentor younger riders."
Recording her fastest-ever time at sea level, Hammer just missed her own American record, posting her second personal best time in the early afternoon qualifying. Her 3:27.826 qualifying mark was the top time of the day; earning her the number one seed and a chance to meet 2010 World Cup champion and 2009 World Championship silver-medalist Wendy Houvenaghel of Great Britain, who qualified three seconds down, in the gold medal final.
In the final, Hammer recorded a 3:28.601, nearly four seconds ahead of Houvenaghel's 3:32.496. With her gold-medal winning time Hammer joins Connie Young, Rebecca Twigg and Marty Nothstein as the only Americans to have won three or more world track cycling world titles.
In the bronze medal round, Vilija Sereikaite (LTU) earned the win over Alison Shanks of New Zealand with a time of 3:32.085.
"It is always important to start fast," said USA Cycling's Director of Athletics Jim Miller. "The entire 2010 squad has a great mentality. Every one of them came here to win and it shows through their preparation and mentality. Congratulations to both Sarah Hammer and Coach Andy Sparks. This should set the stage for more to come this week."
American's attention will remain on the pursuit on Thursday when 19-year-old Taylor Phinney (Boulder, Colo./Trek-Livestrong) attempts to defend his world title and the U.S. fields a strong women's team pursuit squad of Hammer, Dotsie Bausch (Irvine, Calif./ATF-Empower Coaching Systems) and Lauren Tamayo (Asheville, N.C./Peanut Butter & Co. Twenty 12). The UCI Track Cycling World Championships will continue through Sunday.