By Griffin O’Hara
SOFIA, Bulgaria – American cyclist John Klish cruised to gold in Friday’s 50km points race, lapping a number of his competitors.
In the first three laps, Klish and fellow cyclist and coach Paul Wood broke to the front in order to avoid the crashes that usually punctuate the beginning of a race. With a take-no-prisoners approach, Klish shot into the lead after lap four and increased the gap with every lap, scoring extra points every time he finished ahead of the pack.
“What happened was that the group leader would shoot ahead, but nobody would want to work [at the front of the pack], and then they would slow down,” Klish said. “I knew how the group worked, so I took advantage of that… [the] race is like a game of cards.”
Paul Wood crashed earlier in the race and fought to maintain his position after a quick tire replacement, but he lagged because of a damaged brake.
Wood’s strategy had been to shoot to first from the beginning.
“When we started, I wanted to be first so I wouldn’t crash,” Wood said. “Sure enough, I was first. John was right behind me. John went ahead, and I stayed behind him. I ended up crashing on the third lap anyway.”
Despite Klish’s domination in the points race, he doesn’t consider it one of his favorite events. Instead, he says, “mountain biking and cyclocross are my favorites. I like road races because the fitness really carries over.”