Lange in pole position

Lange in pole position
By Reuters

18/02/2006 at 20:57Updated

Andre Lange's Germany I sled was in pole position halfway through the Olympic two-man bobsleigh competition on Saturday despite a shaky start in the second run. Lange set a track record of 55.28 seconds in his first run down the tricky, 1.43-km icy serpentine.

His second run was not as smooth, poor coordination at the start meaning brakeman Kevin Kuske struggled to squeeze into the high-tech blue bob.

The German duo had to be content with the fourth-best time in that run but still held on to the lead before Sunday's medal-deciding two runs.

Canada's Pierre Lueders, who won two-man gold in 1998 in Nagano, was in second position, a slim 0.06 seconds back.

World champion Lueders, who is pinning many hopes on powerful Jamaican-born brakeman Lascelles Brown, was in fifth place after the first run but bounced back with the fastest time in the second to stay in contention for the gold.

Martin Annen, in Switzerland I, was in third place, 0.2O second of the pace.

Germany, fighting to extend their stranglehold on the spectacular sport, had their second sled, driven by Matthias Hoepfner, still in the medal hunt in fourth position, 0.17 second off third place.

There was disappointment for Russia I driver Alexandre Zoubkov, who was joint second after the first run but dropped to fifth after an error-ridden second run.

Todd Hays, steering the U.S. I sled, was in sixth place and already looking forward to his preferred event, the four-man bob, in which he will try to hand the United States their first Olympic bobsleigh title since 1948.