By Gerard Knapp
Despite Katherine Bates' consistency on the track - last week hauling in gold for the individual pursuit and silver in the scratch race - the rest of the Australian track squad left Manchester somewhat light-on in the medals stakes.
Considering that Athens Olympics gold medalists Ryan Bayley and Anna Meares were on board, was the team's relatively poor showing at the UK round of the UCI's track world cup a sign of a team that's underdone for the season ahead?
"Clearly we are in a re-building phase", said Cycling Australia's high performance manager, Kevin Tabotta, who went to Manchester with the squad. "Some still have or are recovering from back injuries, and some in the team is now six weeks behind in their schedules.
Bayley and Meares, the world's leading male and female sprinters in 2004, are both on their way back from injuries in 2005. According to Tabotta, the Manchester round of the UCI track world cup provided the riders with "a good way of saying, 'this is where I'm at now, in terms of international competition'. It's different to the local racing they've had, plus with the racing that came beforehand, and the travel, they can assess where they're at".
But he admitted, "yes, it was not the medal haul as it's been in the past".
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