Australians win fan-free road races at Comm Games

AP News
Posted: Oct 10, 2010 8:45 AM
Australians win fan-free road races at Comm Games

Tight security featuring gun-toting police on top of steel barricades kept most of the spectators away during a Commonwealth Games women's cycling road race won by Rochelle Gilmore of Australia on Sunday.

It was a perfect day for the race _ moderate temperatures, sunny skies and a scenic course through some of the most picturesque parts of downtown New Delhi, including the famous India Gate and Presidential Palace. Even a dog and a monkey sighted on the course didn't bother the competitors.

Gilmore won in a sprint finish in 2 hours, 49 minutes and 30 seconds. Elizabeth Armistead of England was second and another Australian, Chloe Hosking, took bronze.

Another Australian, Allan Davis, won the men's road race of 168 kilometers (103 miles) later Sunday in a sprint finish over Hayden Roulston of New Zealand in a time of 3:40.48. David Millar of Scotland took bronze. Pre-race favorite and Tour de France sprinter Mark Cavendish finished seventh.

Davis sprinted to the front over the last 500 meters, helped by teammate Christopher Sutton, who finished fourth.

But the morning race, staged over eight laps of a 13.7-kilometer (8.45-mile) course, was almost devoid of fans. Television footage showed mostly soldiers and other security officials standing behind the fenced and barrier-laden course.

The lack of crowds didn't bother Gilmore.

"Perhaps it was for the best in terms of security," she said. "We knew a lot of spectators would be watching us on TV."

Gilmore's victory comes after Australian cyclists won 12 of 14 gold medals on the track.

The narrow, technical course proved to be hazardous for Sharon Laws of England, who crashed into the barriers on a tight left-hand turn. Gilmore liked it, though.

"It's a fantastic circuit," she said. "It's really smooth and fast, with a lot of corners. I love corners. I really enjoyed the race."

Diving began its four-day run and Canada took both golds Sunday.

Jennifer Abel and Emilie Heymans won the women's 3-meter synchro. Australians took the other medals _ Briony Cole and Sharleen Stratton the silver and Jaele Patrick and Olivia Wright the bronze.

Alexandre Despatie defended his title in the 1-meter springboard by taking gold later Sunday. One of the biggest names in the diving competition _ Olympic 10-meter platform champion Matthew Mitcham of Australia _ won the silver.

Athletics finals included the men's and women's 200 and men's 800 meters, the women's 400-meter hurdles, the men's discus and women's high jump.

Meanwhile, organizing committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi said a volunteer on the organizing committee had been reported to police over the alleged sale of counterfeit tickets. Local media also reported that two people were arrested for scalping games tickets and that some games credentials were also sold illegally.

Commonwealth Games Federation President Mike Fennell said 850 of the planned 1,500 doping tests at the games had been conducted, and that 600 tests that have been returned were all negative.

There was a positive tone Sunday from Bhubaneswar Kalita, India's chef de mission. Despite a host of problems at the Commonwealth Games _ late construction of venues, transportation and security concerns and clogged roads _ Kalita said he remained optimistic that India would one day hold an Olympics.

"Yes, our good performance and hosting games like this will definitely step forward (the bid) to host the Olympics in India," Kalita said.