Australia and New Zealand set to clash in team pursuit semi-final

"It will be a tough semi-final that's for sure," says Hepburn

Australia and New Zealand will compete in a semi-final at the UCI Track World Championships after the two nations finished second and third respectively in the heats.

Australia posted a time of 3:55.867 with current world champions, New Zealand posting 3:57.050. One of the teams will face either Great Britain or Italy in the final on Thursday.

"I think we had a good ride, certainly for a qualifying ride it was quick," Australia's Michael Hepburn told Cyclingnews and AAP.

"We've had a few days on the track now and we've got a good idea of where we're at. That's sort of the schedule we were looking for today but a couple of the other teams were quite quick. I think the conditions in here are improving by the day and we've certainly got to be a fair bit quicker tomorrow."

Hepburn added that the Australian's strategy all revolved about their execution and the silver medalist from London 2012 believes that the squad is on track.

"It was all about execution today. Whether you qualify one, two or three is not a big difference. We had our plan and we just wanted to stick to our schedule and get four guys through the race which is basically what we did. I think pacing-wise we executed it as we planned.

"Honestly that's what I thought we'd be," he said when asked about the Australian team's time.

"I thought we'd be around 55 or 56. Team pursuit is two days now so you've really got to execute those plans every single ride. With a qualifying ride there's not a team on the other side of the track, so that slows you down a little bit. We're happy with where we're at, at the moment."

Hepburn added that although Australia had beaten the world champions, the Kiwis would not be counted out or underestimated.

"It will be a tough semi-final that's for sure. I think we're around one second faster than the Kiwis there but they'll put up a good fight. We raced them a couple of months ago at the World Cup, they're a good team, world champions last year and I think they'll be going a lot quicker tomorrow. We've just got to execute a plan tomorrow in the semi-final and then hopefully we can look forward to a third ride," he said.

When asked about the British team, a squad Hepburn knows well from the 2012 Games, he said; "It's about where I thought the teams would be. Obviously Britain, it's the home Worlds, they're going to get pretty gee'd up for it. You could tell from their ride they were basically riding to our schedule. That was the advantage they had riding behind us. Whether you qualify first, second or third it all comes down to the second day anyway." 

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