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WORLD Masters 30km Points Race Championship &
3,000m Pursuit Championship (35-39)

Double Golds for Curran & Cooke

AMERICA again dominated the World Masters track challenge at Manchester Velodrome during the weekend, winning no fewer than 21 gold medals in the various age categories.

Britain took second place in the final count - but trailed America with just six titles.

Paul Curran and Geoff Cooke both scored two victories apiece for the host nation, and the other British gold medallists were Alan Trueman and Maxine Johnson.

Curran fought a battle of ferocious intensity with flying Finn Sixten Wackstrom for the age 35-39 points race title. Wackstrom held the lead throughout, but Curran attacked him remorselessly.

The Finn countered every move until Curran launched his final breakaway with only nine laps to go. 'I was only going for the double points at the end, but then people started shouting that I could gain a lap,' said Curran later.

With the remnants of the bunch scattered round the track, Curran overhauled two tailenders with just 250 metres remaining to clinch the title. 'That's my hardest race for a long time, I was going dizzy at the end,' he added. Britain's Nick Giles claimed the bronze.

Earlier, Curran had taken the 3,000m pursuit title in his age group, while Alan Trueman won the over-40 pursuit. America's Chris Carlson completed a pursuit and points race double, winning the 30-35 pursuit at the expense of Britain's Mark Walsham, who was caught in the final.

Walsham also clashed with Carlson in the points race. He was frustrated by some blatant American teamwork, for which Carlson received a commissaires' warning. Then Carlson, local rider Fred Bamforth and South African Grenville Scullard gained a lap, ending Walsham's hopes. Bamforth battled gamely for a silver but could do little against Carlson's superior speed. Carlson said the event was ideal preparation for his attack on the US hour record at Manchester next Sunday night.

Geoff Cooke, ex-sprinter and national coach, scored a short-distance double, winning the sprint and 500m time trial for the 50-54 age group. Cooke, three times a winner of the Manchester Grand Prix on the old Fallowfield track, had covered 6,000 kilometres in training. 'If only I'd known at 20 what I know now,' he said.

America's Jeff Solt produced a world-class kilometre time trial of 1-06.048 to take the 30-34 title. The effort left its mark on the 34-year-old Californian and he sat for 20 minutes with his head in his hands trying to recover. 'I ate a meal only an hour before I rode - we overestimated the time available,' he explained.

Roy Manser boosted Britain's medal tally in the over-60s' class with two silvers.

Perhaps inspired by Chris Boardman's efforts earlier on Friday evening, Maxine Johnson rode aggressively to claim the women's points race gold after a long, mid-race breakaway. As a bonus, the award was presented by Eddy Merckx. Johnson overgeared for Sunday's pursuit qualifying round and had to settle for a bronze medal in a time that should have assured her of silver.

Val Rushworth, just short of her 57th birthday, raced to second place in the 500m time trial and fourth in the sprint, despite having to race against younger riders in the 45-plus age group and with only three weeks' training following a nasty crash.

Top women included New Zealander Donna Wynd, who took a sprint and 500m double, and America's Cynthia Goodman, winner of three golds in the over-40s' category. Goodman, a newcomer to track racing this year, survived an asthma attack on Sunday to clinch her hat-trick in the pursuit.

Despite a lack of continental support for the event, UCI Masters Commission chairman Ian Emmerson was encouraged by an increased entry of 200 riders.

'Unfortunately, many countries do not encourage their riders to continue after the age of 40,' he said. 'But progress is being made. For instance, Belgium recently held its first veterans' track championships.'

The future of the event is guaranteed, thanks to continued sponsorship by EDS of America. Next year the Masters will be extended to a four-day meeting over the last weekend in September at Manchester.

The vets' equipment was mainly state-of-the art, including Corimas and Lotuses, but there were admirable exceptions like Vince Burns' immaculate all-chrome Carlton, complete with Airlite hubs and BSA inch-pitch chainrings

3,000m pursuit: 35-39

1. Paul Curran (GB) 3-29.902
2. S. Wackstrom (Fin) 3-40.033
3. N. Giles (GB) 3-40.581.

30km points race: 35-39

1. Curran 27 pts
2. at 1 lap: Wackstrom 48
3. N. Giles (GB) 15.