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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rousseau Wins 2nd World Title in Sicily

PALERMO, Sicily -- Florian Rousseau of France won his second consecutive world title in the 1-kilometer time trial, edging American Erin Hartwell by 0.632 seconds on the opening day of the World Track Cycling Championships.

Rousseau, 20, from Orleans, completed 2 1/2 laps in 1 minute, 3.163 seconds Monday, an average speed of 56.995 kph (35.394 mph). Hartwell finished second in 1:03.795, or 56.431 kph.

The American cyclist, seeking the first American victory in this specialty, improved four places from the 1993 World Championships at Hamar, Norway. Shane Kelly of Australia, second to Rousseau last year, finished third this time in 1:03.846 and Germany's Michael Scheurer was fourth in 1:05.848.

"When you edge the opponents by the hundredths you are never certain of victory," said Rousseau.

While Rousseau retained his world title, two other defending champions faltered during the first of six days of track races in the velodrome named for Paolo Borsellino, a Sicilian judge murdered by the mafia.

World pursuit champion Graeme Obree of Britain was disqualified for an irregular racing position during early morning qualifying.

Australian Gary Heiwand, the world sprint champion in 1993, pulled out of the event on Monday because of an aching left knee. His manager said Heiwand may recover sufficiently to race on Saturday.

Obree, who set a world one-hour record in 1993 using a peculiar home-made bike which forced him into a stretched position resembling that used by an Alpine downhill skier, was given a red flag -- or two official warnings -- during the run and was punished shortly after completing the 4-kilometer distance.

The British cyclist said he had somewhat expected the disqualification as the International Cycling Federation had effectively outlawed his bike and his riding position earlier this year.

The British cycling hero said he planned to start in the individual time trial on the road using a traditional bike. The 42-kilometer time trial is scheduled to be held at Catania next Thursday.

Heiwand's last-minute withdrawal was wrapped in mystery, but team manager Ron Bonham insisted the Australian sprinter had no problem other than a knee injury. In Heiwand's absence, another Australian cyclist, Darryn Hill, stood out in first-round sprints, along with Canada's Curt Harnett and Italy's Roberto Chiappa.

Britain's Olympic champion Chris Boardman and German Jens Lehmann, the man he beat in Barcelona, face a showdown in the semifinals of 4,000 meters cycling pursuit.

The two rivals scored comfortable quarterfinal victories Monday, with Boardman posting the fastest time of the round despite a stomach bug and a broken spoke.

Boardman's first run was halted after half a lap because he broke a front-wheel spoke, but he raced ahead after the restart to beat Spain's Juan Martinez by nearly four seconds.

In other cycling news, Russian Dmitry Konyshev secured his first win of the season when he outsprinted Luca Scinto to clinch the opening stage of the Tour of the Netherlands, marred by a crash involving a motorcycle outrider.

Konyshev and Italian Scinto succeeded in breaking away from the pack, led for 85 kilometers of the 170 kilometers stage from Breda to Nieuwegein, and held off the chasing riders to finish 23 seconds ahead.

The stage had to be shortened by 7 kilometers after a motorcycle escort was involved in a serious collision with a sponsors' vehicle three-quarters of the way through.

Konyshev and Scinto at one stage built up a lead of 3 minutes and 25 seconds before the peloton, led by a mixed team of Dutch racers, fought to claw back the gap. (AP, Reuters)