Australia and the Netherlands claimed all the spoils on day one of the Sydney Track Cycling World Cup Classic, the fourth and final round of the 2004-2005 series being staged at Dunc Gray Velodrome.
For the Australians, Sydney's Rochelle Gilmore, 23, was unstoppable in the women's 20km points race, Ben Kersten, 23, smashed his personal best to claim the kilometre time trial series title and Anna Meares notched up sprint gold to get the home team off to a flying start.
After winning the points race, Gilmore said, "I thought it would be a lot harder, it would be a lot more attacking, there were a lot of names I didn't know, so I didn't know which ones to chase," explained Gilmore. "This whole series has been about getting a ride at the Worlds and having a good ride and proving to Ian McKenzie (National Endurance Coach) that I could have a good ride when I'm in good form."
In the kilometre time trial, Ben Kersten scorched over the four laps to stop the clock in 1:01.645. It earned him the gold medal and the title of 2005 kilometre World Cup Champion. He was almost a second clear of silver medallist Tim Veldt, 21, (Ned) who posted 1:02.615 with Frenchman François Pervis, 20, third in 1:02.711.
It was great riding here tonight with family and friends - it's just such a special feeling," said Kersten who placed third in the Los Angeles World Cup in December and second in last month's Manchester round where he cracked the 62 second mark for the first time. "I did that PB in January and I thought 'what the hell's going on?'
"I trained a whole year (in 2004) and didn't do that once and now I've done it twice," said Kersten who has his eyes on the podium at the Los Angeles World Championships in March. When asked how much faster he can go the Sydney rider was optimistic. "Who knows - heaps I hope."
Olympic and World time trial champion and Athens sprint bronze medallist Anna Meares, 21, (Qld) also signaled she's on track for LA when she took out the women's sprint event. Meares qualified fourth fastest but her nous saw her down the fastest qualifier, Yvonne Hijgenaar (Ned), in the semis before deposing Chinese sensation Shuang Guo in the final.
"Guo has an awful lot of talent and I think we will see a lot more of her in the future," said Meares. "It's good to see them come down to competitions here in Australia, and it's good to have some new blood in the mix as well."
The Dutch run of gold was led by Sprint World Champion and Olympic silver medallist Theo Bos, 21, who proved the worth of his two weeks of advance preparation in Sydney when he sailed home to win the men's keirin final. Past World Champion, Laurent Gané, 31, showed he still has the speed to come home in second with Czech rider, Pavel Buran, 31, third.
"We've trained very hard here and done a lot of kilometres on the road," said Bos who escaped the Northern Hemisphere winter. "The weather has been great."
Bos will contest the sprint and the kilometre time trial in Los Angeles. "The keirin and kilometre are on the same day so I'll stick to the kilo," he said. "The keirin can sometimes be a lottery."
In the men's 15km scratch race the Dutch success continued as Wim Stroetinga, 19, sprinted home for gold ahead of Denmark's Alex Rasmussen, 20, with reigning World Champion, New Zealand's Greg Henderson, 27, third. "I just wanted to wait till someone went past me and get on their wheel before attacking," said Stroetinga who will race the scratch event at the Los Angeles World Championships.
The sixth gold medal of the night went to another Dutchman Levi Heimans, 19, who caught Great Britain's Edward Clancy a kilometre from the finish in the men's 4km individual pursuit. Bronze went to Russian Ivan Kovalev.