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Veenstra-Mirabella Loses in Cycling

September 17, 2000

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ The U.S. men’s Olympic sprint squad and American individual pursuit rider Erin Veenstra-Mirabella each failed Sunday to advance beyond the preliminary round of their events.

Veenstra-Mirabella, 22, of Colorado Springs, Colo., came in eighth out of 12 in the 3,000-meter individual pursuit.

She narrowly lost her heat to Australian Alayna Burns, who finished seventh. The top four of 12 riders advanced to the semifinals, led by Leontien Zijlaard of the Netherlands, who set an Olympic record at 3 minutes, 31.580 seconds.

Veenstra-Mirabella finished in 3:38.431, just behind Burns at 3 minutes, 38.223 seconds.

In the men’s 4,000-meter individual pursuit final, Robert Bartko of Germany broke his own Olympic record, set one day earlier, to win the gold in 4:18.515. Jens Lehmann of Germany won the silver in 4:23.824.

Australia’s Brad McGee finished in 4:19.250 to win the bronze, beating Rob Hayles of Britain, who was clocked in 4:19.613.

France won the gold medal in the Olympic sprint, using an all-star lineup in standout riders Laurent Gane, Florian Rousseau and Arnaud Tournant to finish the three-lap event in 44.233 seconds.

Britain won the silver in 44.680. Australia was timed in 45.161 to beat Greece in the bronze medal race.

In Veenstra-Mirabella’s race, Burns led through the first eight laps of the 12-lap event, but the American took over with three laps remaining. Her surge brought the loud Australian crowd to its feet.

There were groans each time Veenstra-Mirabella’s splits were posted, showing her ahead of Burns. But with cheers following Burns around the track, the Aussie closed hard on the final lap.

In the individual pursuit, riders start on opposite sides of the track and compete for the fastest times.

While Veenstra-Mirabella didn’t advance, she turned in a strong performance for a young rider. She’ll get another chance to compete in the women’s points race Thursday.

In the Olympic sprint, the U.S. squad of Johnny Bairos of Redlands, Calif., Marcelo Arrue of Woodland Hills, Calif., and Jonas Carney of Pacifica, Calif., finished in 46.337 seconds, the slowest time among the 12 teams. The Americans were almost two seconds behind the French squad in the prelims.

Bairos, for his part, was fortunate to ride in the Olympics after breaking a kneecap, his jaw and shattering several sinus cavities in a crash at a World Cup race in Mexico City in June.

In Olympic sprint, riders go all-out. After the first lap, one cyclist rides away from the group, leaving two riders to continue. The final rider completes the third lap alone.

The event is making its Olympic debut in Sydney.

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