Double Dutch breakdown in communications

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By Larry Fine

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Another communications failure scuppered the golden hopes of Sven Kramer and the Dutch team when the world record-holders were upset by the United States in Friday's speedskating pursuit semi-finals.

Kramer, who missed a certain gold in the 10,000 meters when his confused coach ordered him to change to the wrong lane and he was disqualified, said he and his team mates frittered away precious time.

"Halfway through we had a lot of miscommunication," Kramer told reporters about the surprising result in the eight-lap race around the 400m Richmond Olympic Oval.

Kramer, the 5,000m champion, was feeling strong but team mate Jan Blokhuijsen was fading. During the race, a three-man team take turns leading the way.

"Blokhuijsen was not giving away the top for me," said Kramer.

"Finally, when I came on top he was yelling I was going a little too fast. After that, Mark (Tuitert) was giving me a sign to go back and push January That's pretty hard. That's a big mistake."

The Dutch began to fall steadily behind the Americans and 1,000m bronze medalist Chad Hedrick, who built a lead of more than 1.5 seconds going into the last lap.

With a mighty push, the Dutch made up more than a second on the final lap but fell short by four-tenths of a second.

"It's a big upset," Tuitert, the 1,500 meters champion, said. "We didn't do our best. We had a great team."

Kramer came to Vancouver confident of three gold medals and capping his Olympics with victory in the team pursuit to make up for his fall in the 2006 semi-finals which deprived the bronze-winning Dutch of a shot at Turin gold.

"I came to the Olympics for three gold medals. I have just one now," said Kramer, who will skate in the bronze medal race against Norway. "It's a little strange. I expect more."

(Editing by Ed Osmond)