Some of the most eagerly anticipated match-ups of the entire week have been ruined by a bunch of overzealous commissaires, and in the eyes of Anthony Tan, sullied the spirit of track racing.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

Friday evening,
judges were right to have relegated Victoria Pendleton in the first heat
of her match sprint semi-final against Anna Meares, for the Briton
clearly deviated from the red sprinter's line before hip-sliding to a
halt.

In the second heat, the roles were reversed as Meares moved
abruptly above the sprinter's line, her back wheel almost coming into
contact with Pendleton's front, forcing the fetching Brit to back off at
risk of coming a cropper again.

The third was fought fair and
square. Pendleton's gamble of using a much higher gear ratio than at the
London World Cup paid off in spades, her long sprint enough to send
Anna into a race for bronze, where she nailed Ukraine's Lyubov Shulika
2-0.

But it was the gold medal final between Pendleton and Simona Krupeckaite that I'm dirty about.

Just
when the packed house at Hisense Arena thought they were going to be
treated to a nail-biting decider, as the Lithuanian levelled the match
one-all, judges ruled that Krupeckaite did not hold her line in the
finishing straight.

Did you see it? Enough to enforce a relegation? I don't think so.

"I thought I could win today," a dejected Krupeckaite said afterwards. "The judges were not fair, I think."

"It's
not the way I want to win," Pendleton said, who nevertheless broke down
in tears after almost slicing her shoulder, elbow and hip to the bone
in her clash against Meares, as she digested the enormity of becoming a
six-time world sprint champion. The Liz Hurley lookalike also said that
when she learned she would face Meares in the semis, she honestly
thought she'd be racing for a bronze medal.

But how much better would it have been if Pendleton had actually got to beat
Krupeckaite in a decider, rather than through a technicality and what
ostensibly amounts to an arbitrary interpretation of the rules?

Though I should have known, for a portent of what was to come from the commissaires came earlier in the week.

In
Wednesday's qualifying round of the team sprint, no less than five
nations (four men's teams, one women's) were DQ'd for failing to
negotiate a correct 'exchange', the narrow 30-metre window deemed
acceptable for the lead rider to swing up and off and the rider behind
to take up the pace-setting.

Two of the men's teams relegated
included Germany, the reigning world champions, and Great Britain, the
reigning Olympic champions.

Dave Brailsford, British Cycling's
performance director, said that while he agreed that the decision to DQ
his team was a correct one, he could not remember a past world
championship where such a rule had been so steadfastly enforced.

The
consequences proved auspicious for the trio from Down Under, who
delivered our first gold medal of the track worlds, but did we see the
best team win?

That's an answer we'll never know.

I spoke
to Jamie Staff, one of the gold medal-winning British team sprint trio
from the Beijing Games who is now USA Cycling's sprint director, and who
said his biggest gripe is the inconsistent application of the rules.

"Having
looked at the video, you can't argue with their decision. The only
thing is, I feel they haven't been really consistent with those calls
during the season," he said. "I mean, I can't remember the last time
someone got disqualified for that.

"It was very close, and
obviously the commissaire watching was very strict on (the application
of the rule). The rules are the rules, but perhaps if they could be a
bit more consistent at the (track) World Cups; you want it to happen at
the World Cups, so you can address it later in competition (at the
Worlds or Olympic Games)."

Staff also raises another valid point:
"It's one of those rules where (you ask yourself), 'Is there any major
advantage?' I don't think so.

"It happens so fast; you've got to
realise these guys are shooting around the track at 50 miles an hour
(80km/h). It's hard to see a bit of black tape just painted on the
track, especially being rider two or three, you're looking at the guy in
front of you, you're not focused on where the point is.

"I did
make a comment to the UCI, and said if there's any way they can put
something on the track to designate the change box, that would be
greatly appreciated. So I think they listened and hopefully they might
do that."

But should it have taken this for the UCI officials to
instigate such a change, or should they have thought about this before
soiling such an important event?

Twitter: @anthony_tan