Florian Rousseau of France won his second consecutive world title in the 1-kilometer time trial on Monday, edging American Erin Hartwell by 0.632 seconds on the opening day of the World Track Cycling Championships.
Rousseau, a 20-year-old cyclist from Orleans, completed 21/2 laps at Palermo Velodrome in 1 minute, 3.163 seconds, an average speed of 35.394 mph.Hartwell, a bronze medalist in the 1992 Olympics at Barcelona, finished second in 1:03.795, or 35.044 mph.
"When you edge the opponents by the hundredths you are never certain of victory. It was a close event," Rousseau said.
The American cyclist, seeking the first-ever American victory in this speciality, 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.
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 by the jury for 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 1-hour record in 1993 using a peculiar home-made bike which forced him into a stretched position resembling that used by an Alpine downhiller 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 (26.1-mile) 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.
Two-time world champion and 1993 silver medalist Michael Hubner barely made the second round of sprints, following a first-round defeat and a repechage.
Hubner will test his title chances in a second-round duel with Harnett on Tuesday.
Boardman, the Olympic champion, dominated qualifying on Monday and is heavily favored to win the pursuit title on Tuesday. Boardman, the fastest in qualifying, won his heat against Spain's Juan Martinez in 4:25.801, or 33.643 mph.