By Yuri Karpenko
Such events have been held since 2001 but involved only athletes aged under-23; now, the European cycling elite is allowed to take part. Belarus’ representatives brought home various medals, with Olga Panarina being crowned European champion in the kiering race. Meanwhile, Tatiana Sharakova won silver in the omnium (to be included in the Olympic programme in 2012).
Panarina’s success was anticipated in the sprint, where Olga had shown the best time in the qualification round. She confidently covered all stages until the semi-finals. Struggling against Sandie Clair of France, who lacks Panarina’s speed but boasts good strategy, Olga won the first race. However, she lost the next two to Clair, who went on to take gold. Olga then decided to conserve her energy for the kiering, rather than racing against Simona Krupeckaite of Lithuania for a lesser medal. She made the right decision, beating Krupeckaite and Clair, alongside titled Victoria Pendleton of Great Britain, to claim her ultimate victory. Pendleton did not race in the sprint.
Tatiana Sharakova’s omnium success involved her competing in a combination of six disciplines. After the first day, Leire Dorronsoro of Spain snatched the lead, leaving Sharakova in fifth place. On the second day, the Belarusian performed brilliantly, winning the scratch, alongside other events. This was enough to confirm her silver, with Dorronsoro earning gold.
Fourth place in the pursuit race went to the Belarusian girls’ team of Irina Kryuchkova, Oksana Popko and Tatiana Sharakova. They came third in the qualification round but lost bronze to Germany in the final race.
In the overall standings of the European Championship, Belarus came fourth, jointly with Russia. Great Britain, France and Germany took gold, silver and bronze respectively.