- Article published:
- February 19, 2012, 15:17
- Daniel Benson
Team Sky sprinter heads to Giro d'Italia in May
After a sterling performance on the final day of the omnium at the Track World Cup in London, Ben Swift is determined to push his way into the Great Britain team pursuit team. The Team Sky rider was left out of the squad on the eve of the London meet at the Olympic velodrome and penned in for the omnium, an event he has raced in the past.
The multi-day event proved to mixed affair for Swift. A niggling hamstring hampered his efforts on day one but he fought back to claim a win in the scratch race and finish 6th overall.
“The points race should have been one of my strongest disciplines. I really underperformed there, and quite badly. And the flying lap was also a disappointment because I was going quicker in training” he told Cyclingnews.
“Once I knew I was out of contention for the overall win I just wanted to win one race and the scratch race was the best opportunity to do that. The crowd was unbelievable.”
Although ending on that high Swift is still eyeing a place on the team pursuit, an event he has been on the fringes for in the past.
“The team pursuit is still the number one goal. The omnium is tailor made for Ed Clancy and he’s so consistent every time he rides it. He’s unbelievable. I’ll aim for the team pursuit at the Worlds and the Olympics.”
However, if the pursuit is not an option and the team offer an omnium slot Swift will still take it, aware that it provides a strong shot of a medal come London 2012.
“I’ll do it because it’s another shot. I can definitely improve because my strongest event ended up being one of my worst here. I always tend to get stronger as the event goes on and I think it’s a case of getting my track legs back on.”
Swift will change trajectory now that his Track World Cup is over, pulling in his Team Sky kit in a number of races in Belgium over the coming fortnight. But this biggest road test this spring will come at the Giro d’Italia. Like teammate Geraint Thomas, he is passing over the Tour and focussing on the Olympics.
“I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into the Giro. It was my first grand Tour in 2009 and I’ve heard there’s not so many mountains this year, which will be nice.”
- Article published:
- February 20, 2012, 05:16
- Cycling News
Gold, silver on final day of World Cup competition
Cycling Australia's National Performance Director Kevin Tabotta is confident of a strong performance from the Cyclones at the London Olympic Games saying that the nation can expect to be in the running for a podium spot in each event in the velodrome. Tabotta's comments come following a successful UCI World Cup meet at the Olympic venue where Australia took home seven medals, including two gold.
The effort of the men's team pursuit squad which won gold on the final night of competition, was one which really impressed Tabotta given the prolonged amount of time that the nucleus of the team has produced benchmark results.
"We've really been on top for the last couple of years but it is always a challenge to stay on top," said Tabotta. "When you're coming from behind it is sometimes an easier task, easier to keep people's heads on and expectations at a level but when you're competing from the front you have to keep the wolves at bay and keep lifting it a notch every time.”
The Australian team of Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, Michael Hepburn, Alex Edmondson set the third fastest time in history (3:54.615) on night four to win gold ahead of Great Britain.
Tabotta, like many pundits is expecting the world mark to tumble by the time the Olympics come around in August, with a World Championships also on the horizon in April.
"The challenge for the Olympics in August is whether we can go two or three seconds faster to win the gold medal," he said.
Bobridge explained that he believes the world mark could fall by at least three seconds over the next few months.
"I think come the Games we are going to see around the 3:51, 3:50 mark," he said. "We have proved it over the past few years, we are getting quicker every time we get on the boards."
Perhaps most impressive was the performance of 18-year-old Alex Edmondson who, after playing a key role in South Australia's gold medal showing in the team pursuit at the recent Australian championships, managed to keep world champion team member Luke Durbridge on the sidelines.
"Alex is the fastest 18 year old in the world now and it must have been pretty intimidating lining up alongside three world champions but he did a great job,"said Hepburn.
Cameron Meyer, Glenn O'Shea and Mitchell Mulhern are all chasing a spot on the team which has claimed gold at the world titles the last two years running.
Sister act in the omnium
Edmondson's sister Nettie won Australia's third silver medal of the World Cup with her second place on equal points and two seconds behind winner, Sarah Hammer (USA). It was her first omnium competition at an international level.
Edmondson seems to be on a roll after she took out the individual pursuit and points race at the Australian Championships. Earlier this week, the 20-year-old, won bronze in the team pursuit alongside Josie Tomic and Amy Cure, setting a new Australian record of 3:19.164.
"Four days of racing and seven races the last two days is a big ask but I felt most of the others were in the same boat so it was just keep your head and understand they're feeling it too," said Edmondson.
"My 3.41 in the pursuit I wasn't that happy with and when it came down to the count back that's where I suffered," she said. "It's the next thing I'll work towards for the next shot I get at it but it was definitely a great opportunity to be able to ride against these girls and for it to be my first one and for me to show I can keep my head and mix it with the big names."
It's performances like Edmondson's which gives Tabotta the belief that it won't just be Australia's established track stars who do well in London.
"We've worked pretty hard over the last four years to give ourselves more options and I don't think I'm being unrealistic in saying we believe we're in the hunt in most Olympic events but the difference between first place and fourth place is really up to them on the day,' Tabotta explained.
"It's easy to be favourite going in and run fourth or fifth but also quite possible for riders on the fringe to step up and win medals," Tabotta said. "I think we're a medal chance in every event."
- Article published:
- February 21, 2012, 00:32
- Cycling News
March event key lead up for UCI Track World Championships
Dutch six day legend and Tour de France stage winner Leon Van Bon heads a top international field for next month’s Melbourne Madison at Joe Ciavola Velodrome on March 3.
Van Bon is one of 11 overseas cyclists heading to Melbourne in preparation for the coming world track championships in April.
The international line-up also include Germans Leif Lampater, Christian Grasmann and Marcel Barth, Swiss stars Franco Marvulli and Michael Alborn and Andreas Müller of Austria, as well as New Zealanders Shane Archbold, Myron Simpson, Alex Frame and Pieter Bullings.
Van Bon, was a silver medallist in the Points race at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and had his first race as a professional in 1998.
The Madison field will also have a strong Australian representation, including Scott and Jackson Law, Caleb Ewan, Miles Scotson, Robbie McCarthy, Sean Finning, George Tansley, Ed Bissaker, Luke Davison, Evan Hull and Jack Cummings.
The Melbourne Madison program will also feature the Sid Patterson Grand Prix and other support races.
- Article published:
- February 21, 2012, 10:02
- Jeff Jones/BikeRadar.com
Successful start for home team in key Olympic test
Hosts Great Britain topped the medal table in the fourth round of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup, which was staged in the Olympic velodrome in London between Thursday and Sunday.
The Brits won five gold medals of the 14 that were on offer, also picking up a silver and two bronzes to take their total to eight. Close rivals Australia finished second with seven medals: two golds, three silvers and one bronze, while Germany won two golds, two silvers and a bronze to finish third on the table with five medals.
Sprinter Sir Chris Hoy was the standout performer for Team GB, winning both the individual sprint and keirin, as well as teaming up with Ross Edgar and Jason Kenny to take bronze in the team sprint. Although Hoy won his events well, he gave the strong impression that there was more to come before the Olympics.
In Britain's womens' sprinting stakes, Victoria Pendleton succeeded where Hoy failed, pairing with Jess Varnish to win the women's team sprint against Australia in a world record time of 32.754. Pendleton, however, was unable to back up in her individual events, finishing fourth in the individual sprint and fifth in the keirin. A similar fate befell her Australian rival Anna Meares, who ended with a silver in the team and individual sprints and sixth place in the keirin. Both riders struggled to back up for every race, a likely sign of a heavy training programme.
In the endurance events, Team GB came away with a mixed bag of medals. Their biggest disappointment was not beating Australia in the final of the men's 4000m team pursuit on Sunday. The clash was dubbed The Ashes of the Track World Cup, mimicking the rivalry between the two countries in cricket.
Australia drew first blood on Thursday, with their team of Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, Alexander Edmondson and Michael Hepburn qualifying fastest in 3:57.885. Team GB's Steven Burke, Ed Clancy, Peter Kennaugh and Geraint Thomas were half a second slower in 3:58.446, setting things up for a close final on Sunday.
In the final the hosts had the upper hand at the 1000m mark, clocking 1:02.586 to Australia's 1:02.625, but then the tables gradually turned. Australia, spearheaded by the impressive Jack Bobridge, rode the second kilometre in 56.462 seconds to take the lead by 0.7sec. From then on they increased their advantage to finish in 3:54.615 (the second fastest time ever) to GB's 3:56.330. Both teams will improve before the Olympics and the race is on for the first team to go sub-3:50.
The British women's 3000m team pursuit squad fared better than the men, with Jo Rowsell (who also won gold in the individual pursuit), Dani King and Laura Trott defeating Canada in the gold medal final. The Brits clocked 3:18.148, setting another world record in this relatively new discipline in women's track racing.
Hammer on top in omnium
In the omniums, which comprise six different endurance and sprint events raced over the course of two days, the take home message is that there isn't a clear favourite for the Olympics. Colombia's Juan Esteban Arango won the men's omnium, thanks largely to his consistency on his own against the clock: he won the individual pursuit and placed second in the flying lap, points race and kilo time trial. He managed fifth in the elimination and ninth in the scratch race to finish a clear winner overall ahead of Ho Sung Cho (Hong Kong) and Zach Bell (Canada). Home crowd hopes were with Ben Swift, who raised the roof when he won the scratch race and finished third in the elimination, but clearly lacked the speed required for the flying lap and kilo and ended sixth overall.
The women's omnium saw USA take its only gold medal of the meet with Sarah Hammer triumphing overall. Hammer didn't manage to win any of the events but was the most consistent performer - marginally more so than Australian Annette Edmondson, who finished with the same number of points as Hammer. Third went to Britain's Laura Trott, who won both the 500m time trial and the elimination race, finished second in the individual pursuit and flying lap but had a poor ride in the points race and finished 17th. That cost her the top spot overall but should give her encouragement for the Olympics.
The London meet concluded the fourth round of this season's Track Cycling World Cup. The next stop is the World Championships in Australia between 4-8 April, where it's expected that Australia will claw back some of the gold medals they lost to GB and other nations in London. But all nations have their eyes on the big prize, the track cycling at the London Olympics from 2-7 August. The pressure to perform there is the highest, not just for personal glory and national pride, but also for determining funding for the future, such is the value of Olympic gold medals compared to everything else.
This article orignally appeared on BikeRadar.
- Article published:
- February 24, 2012, 17:33
- Cycling News
15 riders to travel to Melbourne in early April
The 2012 UCI Track Cycling World Championships are due to roll into the historic Australian city of Melbourne in a few weeks' time (April 4-8) and British Cycling has today revealed the squad that will be on the plane Down Under.
Team GB performed brilliantly at last weekend's Track World Cup in London, where they raced to the top of the medals table and to two new world records in the 2012 Olympic velodrome. They will be looking to continue their momentum in Australia as their preparations for the London 2012 Olympics move up another notch.
"The London World Cup was very positive for us in terms of performance and we're looking to continue the momentum going into the World Championships," said British Cycling Performance Director David Brailsford.
"We have selected a very similar team to travel to the World Championships; the only difference is in the men's sprint squad. In London, Ross Edgar was in the early stages of recovering from an injury and we think the best option for him now is to focus his training in the gym and on the road over the next few months and as such he won't travel to Australia - this doesn't mean we have ruled him out of selection for the Olympic Games.
"The sprint coaches also feel that Philip Hindes has shown great potential in training and therefore it would be good for his development to shadow the World Championships team this year. Overall, we're going to Australia feeling confident, and we're looking forward to competing one last time before the Olympic Games."
Sir Chris Hoy
- Article published:
- March 8, 2012, 05:20
- Jane Aubrey
Tabotta positive ahead of big year on the track
Australia will name its team for the upcoming UCI Track World Championships in Melbourne next Wednesday with Cycling Australia's High Performance Director Kevin Tabotta saying that the nation is in a "really positive" position with both rainbow jerseys and Olympic medals on the line in the months ahead.
Australia topped the tally with eight gold, two silvers and one bronze medal at the 2011 worlds in Apeldoorn, providing plenty to live up to with six of the nation's gold medals coming from Olympic events.
Tabotta, speaking from Adelaide where the bulk of the world championship squad will be based for a team camp from Monday onwards, said that while most of the positions had been finalised, there are some spots still up for grabs before Wednesday's announcement.
"Every time we go and pick a team for the world championships it's never 100 per cent clear cut," he said. "We do have a couple of decisions to make before Wednesday next week but I'll also say that the core of the team that we'll be looking at for the World Championships will logically be based around what we had at the world cup in London along with a couple of additions."
The Cyclones came away from the London World Cup event last month with two gold medals (Melissa Hoskins - scratch race, Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, Michael Hepburn, Alex Edmondson - team pursuit), three silver medals (Anna Meares, Kaarle McCulloch - team sprint, Anna Meares - sprint, Annette Edmondson - omnium) and two bronze medals (Josie Tomic, Amy Cure and Annette Edmondson - team pursuit, Amy Cure - individual pursuit).
Endurance squad evolving
Key performances in London came from the endurance squads with Alex Edmondson stepping to the team pursuit squad and effectively oust Luke Durbridge from a rainbow jersey-winning outfit. According to Tabotta, with Edmondson's performance it's now up to him to show consistency in order to cement his position for the five-man team that will make up the endurance squad in August at the Olympic Games.
"At the end of the day if you keep getting those sorts of results - if you're someone like Jack Bobridge, [Michael] Hepburn, and [Rohan] Dennis who are continually putting themselves on the chopping block and continually delivering then you would think that their chances of re-making a team are logically higher," Tabotta explained.
"For someone like Alex Edmondson, he's started that process. For us it's about trying to determine whether Alex will continue to deliver so that's his challenge right now. He's stepped up. Everything that we've put in front of him, he's stepped up and said I can do this."
The first point on the Australian team's Olympic selection charter is whether an athlete is considered to be a genuine medal chance in their chosen event, a key factor which is being given serious thought in regards to the men's omnium competition, where Australia is the reigning world title holder through Michael Freiberg. Further investigation and consideration is needed in the event, with athletes being put under the microscope in Melbourne next month, despite Glenn O'Shea being a standout performer in recent months. The deciding factor will be the team pursuit where the omnium rider will need to be able to slot in.
"I'm not talking out of school when I say we're a pretty good chance for a medal in the Olympic Games," Tabotta explained. "About how we manage the personnel in dealing with that will depend on where we sit omnium-wise as well. Our priority right now is the men's team pursuit in the men's endurance area heading into the Olympic Games."
When it comes to the women's team pursuit, the line-up of Tomic, Cure and Edmondson made a considerable improvement from previous world cup efforts and showed that their fourth placing from the 2011 World Championships in Apeldoorn can certainly be improved on. A year ago just over one second separated Australia and the winning time of Great Britain. That team two has been undergoing change with both Kate Bates and Sarah Kent bowing out of the squad in recent months. The trio set a new world mark in their bronze medal ride-off in London, only for the time to be bettered by Great Britain when they won gold. Tabotta believes that while the girls walked away with a medal, the most important outcome was the boost their confidence received.
"They have been working very hard over the last 12 months and in the preceeding world cups, the results hadn't been coming out the other end," he said. "We didn't talk about medals we talked about times and we talked about being world class. The thing that we focus on was what they were in control of and what they could deliver. They're on track to do good things."
Sprinters set to be tested
The performance in London by Australia's darling of the track, Anna Meares, who contested the team sprint, keirin and individual sprint against a very closely-matched field was of particular interest. Meares set a new world record with team sprint partner Kaarle McCulloch only to have it bettered by Great Britain's Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish. In the individual sprint, Meares set a new personal best and Australian record of 10.939 seconds in qualifying en route to her second silver medal. Meares then followed with 6th place in the keirin. Asked if Meares' workload was any cause for concern, Tabotta replied in the negative.
"When Anna Meares needs to step up in the biggest competitions, fatigued or fresh, she will step up," he said. "We're really pleased with what Anna did at London. She recorded two of the best times she's ever done in that competition and that's reflective of what she's doing here in training. She's right on track."
The next few months for the sprinters among the team is indeed a two-step program with an athlete's longevity less of a concern in Olympic competition than it is during a world championships.
Regardless of the extra prize that could await some of the athletes, Tabotta urged that the home world championships next month needed to be seen in three different lights - "An opportunity as a stepping stone, also as a confidence builder with a worlds jersey a prize in its own right."
- Article published:
- March 8, 2012, 23:44
- Cycling News
Pan American championships one of last events for London spots
The race for qualification places for the 2012 Olympic Games in London is nearing its end for track cycling, and the USA's chances to add members to its team increased at the Pan American Track Cycling Championships in Mar Del Plata, Argentina.
Because the Olympic track peloton is limited to 10 countries in the team events (pursuit and sprint), eight in the sprint and keirin and 18 in the omnium, the battle for qualification has never been more intense.
While the USA has only ensured its place in the women's team pursuit and omnium, it made important strides in the men's team sprint and omnium in the Pan Am championships.
Michael Blatchford, Kevin Mansker and Jamie Watkins took home the gold medal this week over Canada and Argentina, with Venezuela finishing fourth. That result closed the gap for the USA, which must now fight to become one of 10 teams which earn a bid for the event in the London Olympic Games.
The USA was 13th in the UCI nations rankings for the men's team sprint behind Venezuela and Canada before the championships. Only the UCI World Track Cycling Championships remains to decide the final composition of nations for London, and the USA could now add three members to its team for London with a strong result in Melbourne with the right combination of placings.
"It was a long schedule with rain delays and warm weather, so we needed to conserve physical and mental energy,” said USA Cycling Sprint Track Program Director Jamie Staff. “We accomplished what we came here to do, and that was to gain points on Venezuela in the team sprint. The other medals we’ve earned have come as a nice reward for everyone’s hard work. Next, it’s straight back into training for the World Championships which are in a months’ time.”
The USA is also closing in on a spot for the men's Omnium, thanks to a bronze medal by Bobby Lea in Argentina. The USA was 24th in the omnium before the championships, however the continents are restricted to a maximum number of riders per event (in this case, 8 for Europe, 6 for the Americas, 5 for Asia, 2 for Oceania and 1 for Africa), so the USA's chances for qualifying are still good as long as Lea can finish in the top 12 in Melbourne.
It is unlikely that the USA will qualify anyone for the women's sprint events or the men's team pursuit, despite promising results in Argentina this week.
The USA took home a silver in the women's team sprint (Liz Carlson/Dana Feiss), bronze in the keirin (Jennifer Valente), fourth place in the men's team pursuit, in addition to bronze medals in the men's omnium and women's team pursuit in the Olympic events.
In the non-Olympic races, Lea won the men's scratch race, Elizabeth Newell took bronze in the individual pursuit, Jennifer Valente won bronze in the scratch race, Liz Reap was third in the women's 500m time trial.
The Panamerican Championship road race events begin Friday.
- Article published:
- March 13, 2012, 01:30
- Cycling News
Hammer to test omnium form against Olympic-level competition
The US will send eleven riders to contest the UCI Track World Championships in Melbourne, April 4-8, with the national federation announcing its final squad set to include all Sarah Hammer, Bobby Lea, and Lauren Tamayo among others.
After earning a silver in the women's team pursuit at the 2011 UCI Track World Championships, the trio of Dotsie Bausch, Sarah Hammer and Jennie Reed, will be joined by world-record holder Lauren Tamayo in that event.
After placing third in the scratch race at the Pan American Continental Championships in Mar del Plata, Argentina, Jennifer Valente earned automatic qualification to contest the race in Melbourne. Hammer also earned an automatic qualification for the omnium. On the men's side, Bobby Lea who earned his position by placing third in the omnium in Argentina, will contest the same event in Melbourne.
Joining them, will be Cari Higgins, who will contest the points race with Matthew Lipscomb contesting the event for the men. A combination of the trio of Michael Blatchford, Kevin Mansker, and Jimmy Watkins, will compete in the team sprint and the sprint races.
USA team for Track Worlds:
Dotsie Bausch, Sarah Hammer, Cari Higgins, Jennie Reed, Lauren Tamayo, Jennifer Valente
Michael Blatchford, Bobby Lea, Matthew Lipscomb, Kevin Mansker, Jimmy Watkins