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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Date published:
March 29, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Meares sacrifices time trial for sprint glory

    The moment Anna Meares attacked Victoria Pendleto to win the sprint semi final.
    Article published:
    March 22, 2011, 20:56 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Australian feels she's earned the right to challenge for title

    Anna Meares has her eyes firmly on winning her first ever sprint world championship in her 10th attempt but with career-best form in the event, it's a position not without sacrifice.

    Asked by Australian media just what her program will be at the 2011 UCI Track World Championships in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, Meares takes a breath before her measured response: "I'm going to ride three events: the team sprint, the individual sprint and the keirin."

    The 500m time trial, an event in which the 27-year-old has twice been World Champion (2004, 2007) is off the list.

    "That's been a very hard decision to come to and I think it took Gary [Cycling Australia Track Sprint Coach Gary West] a good couple of months to build up the courage to bring to my attention," said Meares, and you believe her. She will tell you it's a decision based on "need" rather than want.

    There was a defining moment for the darling of the Australian track at last year's world championships in Copenhagen. It was day four of competition and fighting it out for the women's sprint crown were Shuang Guo (China) and Victoria Pendleton (Great Britain). Meares and Simona Krupeckaite (Lithuania) were left scrapping for bronze with the latter winning 2-0.

    Meares puts the end result down to one thing and that was rider schedules. Pendleton and Guo didn't take on the time trial on the first day of competition whereas the Australian and Krupeckaite had. It was all in the legs.

    "I know that as hard as it has been for me to give up the time trial this year, I need to do it if I want to be the best chance possible at winning the [sprint] title," Meares said.

    "I don't want to not ride it... it's been...

  • Meyer adds scratch race to track Worlds agenda

    A quick fist pump for Cameron Meyer (Australia) after his victory in the Men's Points Race Final.
    Article published:
    March 23, 2011, 1:24 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    Australian keen to defend points race, Madison titles

    Last year, Australia's Cameron Meyer walked away from the UCI Track World Championships with three gold medals and their three corresponding rainbow jerseys: for the points race, Madison and team pursuit.

    This year, the 23-year-old will attempt to win his third consecutive points race title, adding to the one taken in Poland in 2009, and to do so he has dropped the team pursuit from his racing schedule.

    In its place, Meyer will compete in the men's scratch race on the opening day of racing in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, so he'll still have a chance to equal his record of last season, but he admits doing so will be a tall order.

    "I decided a few weeks ago not to do the team pursuit in order to focus on the points race and the Madison. It could be my last opportunity to ride them before the Olympic Games," Meyer told Cyclingnews.

    Meyer has repeatedly demonstrated the qualities needed to be successful in the points race: excellent fitness, the ability to endure repeated red-line efforts and a talent at performing arithmetic while in oxygen debt. But he admits the scratch race takes an added element: luck.

    "The scratch race is a bit of a lottery. You could hold the same race 10 times and you might have 10 different winners. You have to have a little bit of luck on your side, and make the right move at the right time. It's a lot shorter race, and a lot faster and punchier.

    "I haven't ridden it at a world championship, but I'm looking forward to the challenge. I did the scratch race at Commonwealth Games and had an adequate result there - I won the gold. Hopefully I can take a bit of what I did there and apply it here at the world championships."

    Winning the points race will also be a big ask, considering Meyer will be a marked man in the race, and will have to rely on both guile and brute strength in order to win.

    "It's going to be hard, obviously going into the race as a favorite. I've done the work,...

  • Sergent hopes to translate road success at track worlds

    Jesse Sergent (New Zealand) on his way to win the silver medal in the men's 4,000m individual pursuit.
    Article published:
    March 23, 2011, 3:02 GMT
    Cycling News

    3-days of West Flanders winner targeting pursuits

    Just a few weeks after taking his first professional victory with the RadioShack team by winning the prologue and overall of the 3-days of West Flanders, New Zealander Jesse Sergent has abandoned his brakes and derailleurs for his first love at the track world championships.

    Speaking to Cyclingnews after his final training session prior to the most important day of the championships for the Kiwi men - that of the team pursuit, Sergent thinks the quick switch back to track racing from his road aspirations is going smoothly.

    It's been a whirlwind since his win in Belgium - in the 16 days since he's celebrated his first pro win, he's flown halfway around the world for a week of training on the track in New Zealand, and then endured the long trip back to the Netherlands.

    That kind of jet lag might not be the most ideal preparation, but Sergent said he's coming around just in time.

    "I knew [the travel] was coming, so I just tried to prepare myself for it," he said. "I seem to have adjusted pretty well here, probably because it's the time zone I had been staying in."

    Despite having a short amount of time to revive his track technique, Sergent is optimistic about his and his team's chances.

    "We got in some pretty solid sessions on the track - definitely not as many as I had going into last year's worlds, but I think it's still enough. The technique for the team pursuit came back pretty quickly. It's more the standing starts and power that takes a bit longer, but it's all up there now, just in time for tomorrow."

    At the young age of 22, Sergent is one of the leaders of the Kiwi team along with Sam Bewley (23), Peter Latham (26) and Marc Ryan (28). What he lacks in age, he more than makes up for in speed and experience, having been part of the New Zealand bronze medal teams at the Beijing Olympic Games (with Ryan,...

  • Australia's team pursuiters know pressure comes with success

    Australians Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, Luke Durbridge and Michael Hepburn on the way to winning gold in the final of the team pursuit in a time of 3:57:832
    Article published:
    March 24, 2011, 2:37 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Russians making gains ahead of critical 2012

    There may be 491 days until the London 2012 Olympic Games begin, and another world championship competition to be run and won however back-to-back team pursuit world champions Australia know the pressure to perform is only going to increase.

    The foursome of Jack Bobridge, 21, Rohan Dennis, 20, Michael Hepburn, 19, and debutant Luke Durbridge, 19, were the only team of the competition to ride under four minutes for the four kilometre, 16 lap event.

    Clocking a time of 3:57.832, the Australians defeated the Russians (4:02.229) in the gold medal ride off.

    Hepburn explained following the win that all eyes were on the Australians as defending champions.

    "There was a lot of pressure and a lot of teams looking at us as the top team here," Hepburn explained. "Some class competition out there but the track was a little bit slower than we expected and we were a little bit surprised by some of the times in qualifying but in saying that we knew we had to be right on our game and not let our ball down."

    And the Russian team might just be the team to watch heading into the big events next year with the Australian men's track endurance coach, Ian McKenzie coach saying he was happy for the added competition.

    "There's no doubt the Russians are coming," said McKenzie. "Our plan was to ride to schedule on a 3.58 to the 2km mark and then see where we were against them but they hit the front (on lap six) so we started racing then.

    "I'd much rather have a race than qualifying, just going for a time. To get a good time is rewarding but I reckon it's all about the racing for me, for the spectators and the riders enjoy it more too."

    Durbridge claims maiden elite world title

    Western Australia's Luke Durbridge, a three-time world...

  • Clancy out, but no panic for Great Britain in track Worlds

    Great Britain rode to the bronze medal, beating New Zealand
    Article published:
    March 24, 2011, 17:42 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    Progress despite gold medal drought, says Brailsford

    The British track cycling team, once so dominant in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympic Games, may be in the midst of a minor gold medal drought, but British cycling's performance manager David Brailsford said he is not worried despite losing his main male endurance rider, Ed Clancy.

    Clancy dropped out of the 2011 UCI Track Cycling World Championships after a botched attempt at coming back from an illness. Clancy started the men's team pursuit qualifying yesterday but it was quickly apparent he was not up to the task.

    "Clancy had a virus and didn't train last week, and it was a bit of a gamble bringing him here," Brailsford told Cyclingnews. "We rested him up, but obviously he didn't feel great, and it was clear he wasn't riding like Ed Clancy. So we decided to withdraw him."

    The team scrambled to substitute him with 18-year-old Sam Harrison, who helped to salvage the night and gain bronze with the men's pursuit team. Harrison will now skip today's individual pursuit in order to focus on the omnium, where he will replace Clancy, who won the event in the Cali World Cup in December.

    Brailsford indicated he was putting no pressure on his young rider Harrison, saying he would ride for experience in the event. "We can only do what we can do, there's no point in worrying about it."

    In the lead up to it's near total domination of the Beijing Games, Great Britain scored seven gold medals at the 2007 worlds in Mallorca, but in five events so far, the British have come away only with bronze in the men's team sprint and pursuit.

    While the lacklustre performance may be worrying to British fans, Brailsford said he won't be disappointed unless the team fails to perform in its home Games next summer.

    "The biggest...

  • Meares and McCulloch - individual rivals; rock-solid teammates

    Kaarle McCulloch and Anna Meares sing Advance Australia Fair as the Australian flag is raised
    Article published:
    March 25, 2011, 2:08 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    The fine balancing act of a winning combination

    It cannot be easy being Kaarle McCulloch. In team sprint partner Anna Meares, she has one of the best athletes the world of track cycling has ever seen. But also, in Meares, she has a fierce rival.

    "It's no secret to anybody that I want to win and that she wants to win," McCulloch told Cyclingnews of the delicate balancing act. "I think that that is the reason why we were both so competitive on the international level because we've got each other to train with and we ride against each other so much and push each other to our limits. We both know that so we're not going to let that affect our relationship or our riding in any way because we know that having each other around is only to the benefit to our personal careers."

    McCulloch and Meares claimed their third-straight team sprint world title on Thursday evening with a start-to-finish performance over Great Britain's Jessica Vernish and Victoria Pendleton in the Apeldoorn velodrome. Meares lead the way out of the gate with a solid first lap of 18.688 which was half a second quicker than Varnish. McCulloch added another tenth of a second to the lead in the next half lap and hung on against Pendleton's barnstorming final 125 metres to seal the victory.

    McCulloch, 23, is still a relative new-comer to the sport having first tried middle distance running and then triathlon on her way to finding her calling on the bike at age 17. In 2006, McCulloch made her first Australian team and at the Junior World Championships she won bronze in the 500m time trial and claimed two fourth places in the sprint and keirin.

    So far, her lone elite Australian titles in the keirin, sprint, and time trial have all come when Meares wasn't competing. At February's national titles, Meares took out both the kierin and the sprint. McCulloch finished fourth and second respectively handling each result with grace. Tough given one of the first questions asked by media is more often than not, about...

  • Banner day for Australia at track worlds

    Laughter and tears for Meares on the podium
    Article published:
    March 26, 2011, 21:45 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    Meares, Freiberg, Perkins double gold tally

    The 2011 UCI Track Cycling World Championships have belonged to the nation of Australia, but no more so than on day four when the country took home three gold medals and one silver in the course of the afternoon.

    When Shane Perkins took out the men's keirin final in a clear victory over Olympic champion Chris Hoy, it was sweet revenge for the country's male sprinters who had been shut out in the team and individual sprints.

    Then the day got even better for the Aussies when Anna Meares claimed gold in the women's individual sprint in an emotional victory over Simona Krupeckaite (Lithuania).

    Before the night was over, the team would add another gold in the men's omnium when Michael Freiberg followed up his surge into the rankings lead in the scratch race with a solid kilometre time trial, holding a five-point buffer to top New Zealand's Shane Archbold.

    "I got so excited when Anna won, she's been trying to get this for so long and she's now got the form and she just destroyed it tonight," said Freiberg, "I got really excited watching Shane. They're two of the best athletes in the world, and to see them from my home country manage to come away with the world title it pushed me even further - I'm so happy to be able to finish it off."

    Finally, Katherine Bates, who made her comeback from a debilitating hip injury over the...

  • Great Britain to miss 2012 track worlds?

    Dave Brailsford back in the Velodrome with the British team.
    Article published:
    March 29, 2011, 7:00 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Brailsford says team's participation in Melbourne is "questionable"

    While satisfied with Team Great Britain's performance in Apeldoorn, high performance director Dave Brailsford says that it's a possibility that a contingent won't make the trip to Melbourne, Australia for next year's world championships.

    "Whether we need to go all the way across the world just a few months before London is questionable," said Brailsford on BBC Sport regarding the proximity of the world championships to the Olympic Games.

    Team Great Britain finished fourth on the world championship medal tally, with one gold, three silver and five bronze medals won. Australia topped the tally with eight gold, two silvers and one bronze medal. Six of Australia's gold medals came from Olympic events.

    "From our point of view that [performance] is satisfactory," Brailsford explained.

    "We've raised the bar so high that when we don't win gold, people imagine there is a problem. The team is quietly confident.

    "It might not be the gold medals everyone is used to us winning but we are on the podium and we are only small margins away from moving forward.

    "We will put our foot down over the next 15 months and hopefully we'll be okay by the time we get to London."

    Brailsford suggested that there was too much emphasis being played on the fact that Australia had been the team to beat Great Britain in some of the key events, namely the women's sprint and team sprint, women's kierin and men's