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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Joan Llaneras surges to gold

Joan Llaneras of Spain won gold with a masterful display of tactics, claiming his third consecutive Olympic Games medal in the Men's Points Race at the Laoshan Velodrome on Saturday.

At 39, the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games champion and Athens 2004 silver medalist in the Men's Points Race used his experience in the second half of the 40km, 160-lap race to claw back an early deficit to Roger Kluge of Germany. Kluge couldn't follow when Llaneras lapped the field but won the last of 16 sprints to win the silver medal.

Chris Newton continued Great Britain's medal march in Track Cycling taking bronze.

Llaneras won with 60 points, Kluge was second with 58 and Newton third with 56.

All three medalists lapped the field twice, each earning two, 20-point bonuses that were the keys to their podium results. Kluge took an early lead after joining a five-man breakaway that lapped the field after the sixth sprint. At the halfway point, Newton went on a solo attack to snag the lead points on the eighth sprint.

Llaneras made a surge to win the ninth and 10th sprints to vault back into contention. The veteran Spanish rider then put his head down and pulled away from the tiring pack, with Newton and Kluge desperately chasing.

With 40 laps to go, second-place Llaneras accelerated to drop Kluge and follow a breakaway by third-place Newton to win the 13th sprint to move into the lead for good. From there, Llaneras rode defensively and let Kluge and Newton battle for the minor medals.

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