Four gold medals from Australia's women and consistent performances across the board has seen Australia top the nation rankings at the end of the first round of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup Classics at Sydney's Dunc Gray Velodrome. Australia amassed 103 points to finish four points clear of defending series champions, the Netherlands, after 16 events over three days.
The highlight of the round was undoubtedly the world record ride by Queensland's Anna Meares who posted a time of 33.944 seconds for the 500m time trial eclipsing the time she set to win gold at the Athens Olympic Games. She claimed a second gold medal when she teamed with sister Kerrie Meares in the women's teams sprint while Victorian Katie Mactier took home the gold in the 3km individual pursuit.
Sydney's Kate Bates kicked off the Australians medal haul on the opening night with victory in the points race. In the men's events Olympic and Commonwealth Games Champion, Ryan Bayley (SouthAustralia.com-AIS), collected silver in the keirin and Victorian Phillip Thuaux (Drapac-Porsche) finished third in the 4km individual pursuit.
But the final day of competition wasn't kind to Kerrie Meares who crashed heavily in the second round of the keirin after her back tyre exploded. She landed hard on her left knee and collected splinters and track burn in the fall. The 24 year-old may now be in doubt for the Oceania Championships which begin in Melbourne this Thursday. Kerrie was sitting in second wheel behind sister Anna heading into the final 100 metres when the crash happened.
"From what I remember the Chinese girl [Shuang Guo who received an official warning after the race] was crowding down on me and I accelerated to stay on Anna's wheel but went a little too fast," said Kerrie whose front wheel overlapped her sister's rear wheel. "I was trying to pull back a bit to control my speed but my rear tyre blew up and I couldn't hold it."
Australian Head Coach, Martin Barras, said the Australians came to Sydney with the goal of being competitive in at least six or seven events. "We can see from the medals and performances that we have achieved that goal but it was a case of hits and misses over the three days," said Barras. "The hits were obviously the women, [Anna] Meares, Bates and Mactier but some of the men posted impressive performances as well.
"Ryan Bayley [silver] and Mark French [second across the line but relegated to sixth by officials] rode well in the keirin final and French put in a solid showing in the sprint [placed 4th]," continued Barras. "In today's teams sprint competition Shane Perkins and French were the two fastest starting riders over the first lap of all the riders in the competition and the junior sprinters, Daniel Ellis and Scott Sunderland showed promise."
Barras says one of the misses was by the teams pursuit line up of reigning World Champions Steven Wooldridge, Peter Dawson and Mark Jamieson with new recruit Michael Ford (SouthAustralia.com-AIS) who failed to make the medal round in the event. They were also half a second slower in qualifying than the younger Australian national team quartet of Zakkari Dempster, Richard England, Hayden Joseksi and Cameron Meyer who were the fifth fastest qualifiers.
"They've taken it on the chin and I think you'll see them back on top the next time they take the line," said Barras.
Complete coverage of the final day of racing at Sydney's World Cup.
Further information can be found here on the organizer's website.