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Three as one for three minutes on the track

January 19, 2012

 Dotsie Bausch, Lauren Tamayo, and Sarah Hammer in 2010 World Championships team pursuit, (photo by Steve Ryan, Flickr)

“You need to ride together as one big motor. So the more in sync you all are the better your motor will run.” — Australian Olympic track gold medalist Graeme Brown describing the track team pursuit competition.

Dotsie Gausch, Lauren Tamayo, and Sarah Hammer lived in two different countries. Despite racing or training together less than eighteen days, they set a new women’s team pursuit record of 3:19.569 at the Pan-American Games in May, 2010. That means circling three kilometers of track together, with just centimeters between each woman’s wheel and the wheel of the teammate in front of her, constantly rotating position at an average speed in excess of 53 km or 33 miles per hour.

This threesome and eight other women received places on the U.S. Olympic track long team from which the Olympic team will be selected. Those chosen to participate in the team pursuit in London represent perhaps the United States’ best hope to win a track cycling medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in August. If they succeed in standing on the podium, they will break the U.S.’s twelve year no-medal streak in the track discipline of cycling.

The Americans will have to outrun teams from three countries with traditionally strong women’s team pursuit results: Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand – assuming all qualify for one of the ten available slots for this Olympic event.

On February 17th – 19th the American women will test the new Olympic velodrome track and their strength at the fourth UCI Track Cycling World Cup event. If the Olympic velodrome lives up to its creators’ dream of earning the reputation as the world’s fastest track, the American women may just break their own record.

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In the team pursuit two four-man or three-woman teams start the race on opposite sides of the track. Each team tries to catch the other or finish in a faster time than the other team. Riders on each team take turns in the lead position.

Track cycling resources

With gratitude to Steve Ryan for sharing the photo above on Flickr via Creative Commons.

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