The Australian track riders have taken out the Sydney round of the World Cup Track Cycling Series which wrapped up on Sunday at the Dunc Gray Velodrome. The Australians ended the three day event with 132 points after claiming four gold, two silver and three bronze medals and six other top ten placings to finish 12 points clear of the Netherlands who won six gold medals in Sydney but only 120 points. But the Dutch had cause to celebrate when they were named the 2005 World Cup winning nation after the four round series.
Queensland's Anna Meares won her second gold of the meet when she attacked the field 350 metres from home for a dominant keirin victory. Her win also earned her the title of keirin World Cup Series champion. "I had planned to go even earlier but they (the other riders) had cottoned onto that so I had to delay a little bit," explained Meares. "Then it was a dilemma as to when to go and what to do.
"Then I thought I'd lead Kerrie (sister) out in front of the hitters but it didn't work out that way either," she explained. "I'm still pretty happy with how it went because keirin racing doesn't go to plan all the time."
In the women's scratch race, it was 18 year old Italian Annalisa Cucinotta who surprised Australian Katherine Bates to take the gold. However, Bates' performance was enough to give her the overall World Cup crown in that event.
Bates rode aggressively throughout but couldn't shake her rivals. "I had a few digs but when I tried one of the others would come with me," said Bates. "It's pretty cool to be World Cup Champion though."
With seven laps of the 40 lap race remaining, China's Yunmei Wu, 20, launched a solo attack but she was reeled in on the last lap with Italian Annalisa Cucinotta sprinting strongly to claim gold ahead of Bates and team mate Rochelle Gilmore, 23. However Gilmore was later relegated to last place for dangerous riding during the race and the bronze was awarded to New Zealand's Catherine Sell.
"I was confident I could bring her back but I didn't want to chase for the last five laps when everyone else swung up," said Bates who found herself out of position in the final lap. "Then on the bell the Italian had un unreal position and you can't win from five back." Bates and Gilmore had been directed by National Endurance Coach to race their own race as part of the selection process for the Australian Cyclones for LA. Gilmore opted to tail Bates knowing she was one of the strongest endurance riders in the field.
"We were told before the race you don't have to work together because but don't get in each other's way," said Bates. "That's fair enough because we all want to go for our spot and Rochelle's more a sprinter so she always rides that way and I like to make the race and control the attacks. With two to go, I'm always on the front and she's always on the wheel, but the stronger I get, the harder it is for her to come around me," she explained.
France claimed the gold and overall World Cup crown in the Team sprint with Gregory Bauge, Arnaud Tournant and Francois Pervis riding 44.837 to defeat Japan's Kazuya Narita, Yusho Oikawa and Kazunari Watanabe (46.526) in the final. Australia finished with bronze when the first time combination of Ben Kersten, Jobie Dajka and Joel Leonard posted 46.267 seconds to beat China's Xinzhu Cheng, Zhiguo and Liheng Yan (47.757).
"I would have liked to go a little bit faster," said Kersten. "But I haven't done any training for this event as the kilometre has been my focus."
Australian Chris Sutton came to grief 101 laps into the 160 lap (40 km) Madison after a handsling change-over went horribly wrong but he remounted his bike and recovered to rejoin partner Richard England. However, they were unable to answer an attack by Ukraine pair Dmytro Grabovskyy and Volodymyr Rybin who lapped the field 52 laps from home and then defended their lead to the end winning the gold on 5 points and a lap advantage over Denmark's Michael Morkov and Alex Rasmussen (23 points) with Great Britain's Mark Cavendish and Thomas White third on 13 points.
"I spent six laps trying to get back up to the top six guys," said England, who had to race alone until Sutton rejoined. "Then when CJ (Sutton) got back in they (the contenders) were driving and it took me 40 laps to fully recover from the previous effort and that's a big chunk of the race."
"It happened at a bad time," said England of the crash which occurred when the Australians were in medal contention. "But that's the luck of the draw - sometimes you come out in front and sometimes you don't."
After scoring three gold medals on day one of the World Cup at the Dunc Gray Velodrome, the Dutch team did exactly the same again on the second day, as well as taking the overall classification of the World Cup series following the third day. On Saturday, Theo Bos impressed with his 200 m qualification time of 10.068 - not only cracking the track record but also the best time of his rival Ryan Bailey. "It's a nice feeling having achieved that," Bos said. "It proves that I'm the fastest at the moment."
The Dutchman also said to his home country newspaper De Telegraaf that he was looking forward to the Los Angeles World Championships. "I'm ready for Los Angeles. My form is good, and I'm sure it's getting even better. During the last month, I've been training in Australia with Tim Veldt, and with the fantastic weather we have been able to work on basic endurance, riding long distances on road. This coming month, I'll focus on my sprint skills, and I hope to feel even better at the end of March at the World's."