Olympia: Women’s track bike foursome wins gold in world record time

Olympia: Women's track bike foursome wins gold in world record time

World Record! World Record! World Record! So it echoed through the Izu Velodrome! And the question of which four women could field one of these, which four racing machines on Monday and Tuesday, depended not only on the strength of their legs and keeping the ideal line. But also by the order in which he was allowed to drive. There was no world record before it was gone again. Record inflation.

In the team chase, 4000 meters, 16 laps were to be completed. In the end: the Germans won. With the previous world record – 4:04.242 minutes – which fine-tuned the previous world record even more and which left even knowledgeable observers almost speechless. Take, for example, a particularly knowledgeable observer Christina Vogel, double Olympic champion in 2016. “Oh my god, in what time,” she said, now as a ZDF expert, “I never would have thought girls could even find it.”

But it was in the girls: Franziska Brusse, 22, from Anningen, Lisa Brennauer, 33, from Durach, Lisa Klein, 25, from Erfurt, and Mikey Kroeger, 27, from Bielefeld, are now Olympic champions in team pursuit – a discipline that has contributed to the women’s Olympics since 2012. and Great Britain won in 2012 and 2016 ahead of the USA and Canada.

Three world records in team chases in just a few hours

So a look at the new world of numbers in track cycling: Prior to this competition in Izu, the British had a record time of 4:10.236 minutes. But already in the qualifying round on Monday, three quartets were faster: the Germans, the Britons and the Americans. Only because Bruce, Brenauer, Klein and Kroger were the first to play with their 4:07.307 minutes, the others were denied a record. Then four heats on Tuesday: Here six of the eight teams finished below the oldest, the fastest being the British (4:06.748, world record), then the German (4:06.159, world record). And then this fiery finale: 4:04.242 min. world record.

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It would have been gone forever, but now the competition was over. Lisa Brennauer lifts her bike in the air like a trophy, Lisa Klein holds her face in disbelief, others hugged. And national coach Andre Korf had to take a deep breath: “We came here with the aim of winning a medal,” he said. He had already won a bronze medal at the 2020 World Cup in Berlin. And now this dominance? “Women’s cycling has got a huge publicity,” Korf said, “everything has become more professional.”

But after this world record show the question remained: Did everyone fall into the track bike magic potion? Or did the railway itself have something to do with the fact that it moved so fast? And racing bikes? sequentially.

Railways are built “as a platform for top performance”

A call in Munster, where architect Ralph Schurman sits in front of a live stream from Monday: “Fantastic!” He says on the phone. “That’s why we build these railways – as a platform for top-notch performance.” Schurman has been making wooden tracks at velodromes for three generations, and now has over 130 around the world. The one in the Isuzu is now ten years old, and “clearly,” says Schurman, “designed for high speeds”. But: “We can’t make them downhill.” At that time, 14 containers were shipped to Yokohama, a 2,500 square meter Siberian Spruce – a distance of 60 kilometers would result if the boards were placed one behind the other. Everything prefabricated in Westphalia and pulled together with 250,000 nails within six weeks at Izu.

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And Ralph Schurman saw something on screen: “Do you see the beautiful patina? A little smoother in the curves, the dust has worked its way into the wood over the years.” A railway, says Schurman, “is always faster in the beginning, and then again after about ten years.” So it worked out well, right in time for the Olympics.

A track set for a new record: The German team set a world record several times while chasing the team.

(Photo: Sebastian Golno / DPA)

Ronnie Hartnicke, deputy director of the Institute for Research and Development of Sports Equipment (FES) in Berlin, specializing in cycling, can reveal more about this Olympic victory. If you ask him at the beginning of the phone call whether the bike has gotten lighter again since 2016, the complexity of the matter is not fully understood. Engineers are now actually closer to the prescribed minimum weight of 6.8kg, but above all, Hartnick says, it’s about “optimizing the athletes’ position on the bike,” that is, low air resistance. To do this, he spent a lot of time in the wind tunnel, he experimented with the surface of the racing suit (“better sewn or better glued?”), he developed a new fork “which significantly reduces the overall airflow around does. Cycle”. And where they’ve “taken a real leap” since Rio, Hartnick says, are the new handlebars. They now come individually from a 3-D printer for each driver, tailored to each individual muscle and bone, “no longer a sheet of paper in the middle”.

You can go on with the angles of new chains, new chain grease, carbon fiber layers in the frame – but the matter has long been clear: This sport is a physical battle. And the Germans are leading them.

But in the end the four women have to use their muscles to accelerate the racing machines. And that is why at the end of the day he was awarded gold medals in Izu. “It laughs to stand there,” said Lisa Brennauer. “It’s crazy, we have to feel it first.” And Lisa Klein: “We have great willpower, great togetherness, and a really good mood. It made it easier for us here.”

The sleek track from Westphalia gleamed in the background, and the interior of the oval had three large lettered wheels perched on the frame: FES.

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