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Cycling at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Games:

Men's Sprint

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Host City: Melbourne, Australia
Venue(s): Olympic Park Velodrome, Melbourne, Victoria
Date Started: December 3, 1956
Date Finished: December 6, 1956
Format: 1,000 metres.

Gold: FRA Michel Rousseau
Silver: ITA Guglielmo Pesenti
Bronze: AUS Dick Ploog

Summary

Earlier in the year, Michel Rousseau (FRA) had won the sprint World Championships and was favored in Melbourne. The 1955 and 1956 runner up Jorge Batiz (ARG) was not in Melbourne. Future World Champion in the event (1958-59), Valentino Gasparella, was in Melbourne but did not contest the sprint, riding only the team pursuit. Nineteen riders started the event. Six first round heats followed by six repêchages qualifed 12 riders for the quarter-finals. From the quarter-finals onward, all matches were best two of three races. The semi-finals came down to Rousseau, Italian Guglielmo Pesenti, and two riders from Oceania. In the first heat, Rousseau defeated New Zealander Warren Johnston easily in two straight races. The second heat had Pesenti and Russell Ploog (AUS). They split the first two races, and in the decider, Ploog took the lead on the last back straight as they started the sprint. He swept down inside Pesenti who passed him quickly, and Ploog stood up. But he did not raise his hand for a protest, and did not actually finish the course on the track. However, the Australian team manager protested that Pesenti had cut Ploog off when he passed him. Later that evening, the commissaries ruled in Pesenti’s favor, but Australia appealed again and it was not until the next morning that the final ruling came back that there had been no foul. In the final, Rousseau won comfortably in two straight races, with 11.4 his 200 metre time for each race, equaling the Olympic record both times. Rousseau was again amateur sprint World Champion in 1957 and then turned professional. In 1958 he won the professional world title, and was runner-up in 1959 and 1961 to the redoubtable Antonio Maspes (ITA).

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Michel Rousseau 20 France FRA Gold
2 Guglielmo Pesenti 22 Italy ITA Silver
3 Dick Ploog 19 Australia AUS Bronze
4 Warren Johnston 20 New Zealand NZL
5T Jack Disney 26 United States USA
5T Ladislav Fouček 25 Czechoslovakia TCH
5T Boris Romanov Soviet Union URS
5T Tommy Shardelow 25 South Africa RSA
2 h1 r3/5 Evrard Godefroid 24 Belgium BEL
2 h2 r3/5 Anésio Argenton 25 Brazil BRA
2 h1 r2/5 Shazada Muhammad Shah-Rukh 30 Pakistan PAK
2 h2 r2/5 León Mejía Colombia COL
2 h3 r2/5 Hylton Mitchell 30 Trinidad and Tobago TTO
2 h4 r2/5 Hernán Masanés 25 Chile CHI
3 h1 r2/5 Lê Văn Phươc 27 South Vietnam VNM
3 h3 r2/5 Fred Markus Canada CAN
3 h4 r2/5 Keith Harrison 23 Great Britain GBR
3 h5 r1/5 Paul Nyman 27 Finland FIN