The Australian track cycling team has declared itself a favourite to win the first world championship omnium event when the 2007 Track Cycling World Championships get underway in Palma Majorca, Spain this Thursday. Australia's head national track coach Martin Barras believes the experience of running the event at the Australian championships could be the key to an Aussie victory.
"We're the only country to have run one so far and it's the first time at World Championships and Ben [Kersten] was outstanding in the event to win at the Australian Championships," said Barras. "There is no doubt in my mind that he is a strong favourite for the Omnium."
The Omnium involves one rider competing in five events on the same day (flying 200m, scratch race, individual pursuit, points race and kilometre time trial). Sydney's Kersten goes into this year's championship as probably the only rider to have raced the omnium in it's entirety.
Australia will also field starters in the teams sprint events with Shane Perkins, Mark French and Ryan Bayley lining up in the men's and Kristine Bayley and Anna Meares in the women's.
"We will be contenders in both," said Barras. "We have improved in the men's but so have other countries so we have to accept that whilst we will improve our times we might not improve our position however it's looking very promising for next year.
While Barras isn't expecting miracles from the younger members of this year's 18-strong squad, he feels the team will be definite contenders in several events.
"I don't believe we're going to dominate the world, it's unlikely any one country will this year, but I am very comfortable with the depth of talent we have in the team," he explained. "It's not reasonable to expect any or many of the younger riders to get on the podium but they have certainly performed well so far this year and they'll take us far in the future."
Australian track cycling team for the 2007 World Championships: Katherine Bates, Ryan Bayley, Kristine Bayley, Peter Dawson, Zakkari Dempster, Mitchell Docker, Mark French, Belinda Goss, Matthew Goss, Mark Jamieson, Ben Kersten, Joel Leonard, Katie Mactier, Anna Meares, Cameron Meyer, Shane Perkins, Scott Sunderland, and Phillip Thuaux