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World and Olympic champions prepare for Minsk assault
Cycling Australia has named a 16-rider long list for the upcoming UCI Track World Championships, held from 20-24 February in Minsk, Belarus. The team will be reduced to 15 athletes by 11 February as one rider is left off the current men's endurance selection.
"This year's championships will be challenging for the youthful squad who will be without last year's rainbow jersey winners Cameron Meyer (points race), Shane Perkins (team sprint) and Anna Meares (keirin and 500m time trial).
"This is the first major step in the rebuilding process for the track program and this world championships is the beginning of the journey to Rio 2016," said Cycling Australia national performance director Kevin Tabotta.
Meyer's absence at the championships is likely to be long term with the West Australian concentrating on his road career at Orica GreenEdge while Meares is yet to return to competition following her successful London Olympic campaign. Perkins' recent shoulder surgery means he won't line up to defend his team sprint title while 2012 individual pursuit medal winners Jack Bobridge and Rohan Dennis also concentrating on their professional road careers.
"The post-Olympic Games year provides an ideal opportunity for emerging talent to challenge for a place in the elite high performance program and future Cyclones teams. But the focus is still on getting Australia on the podium whether now or by laying the groundwork for the future," said Tabotta.
The chosen group to represent Australia may be missing some of its headline riders but the squad is not without serious talent. Reigning world champions Michael Hepburn, Glenn O'Shea, Alex Morgan, Matthew Glaetzer and Scott Sunderland are all included in the current squad with Olympic Games bronze medal winner for the omnium and Annette Edmondson also in the line-up.
"Both the athletes and the staff are looking forward to finding out a bit more about one another and how we work together at the top level of competition," explained Tabotta. "We're now on the 'Road to Rio' and this is the start of the process to identify the riders and personnel for the 2016 Olympic Games."
The 16-rider Cyclones team will be reduced to 15 with the removal of one male from the endurance group by 11 February:
Women - Kaarle McCulloch (NSW) and Stephanie Morton (SA).
Men - Mitchell Bullen (NSW), Matthew Glaetzer (SA), Scott Sunderland (WA) and Andrew Taylor (NSW).
Women - Ashlee Ankudinoff (NSW), Amy Cure (Tas), Annette Edmondson (SA) and Melissa Hoskins (WA).
Men - Luke Davison (NSW), Alexander Edmondson (SA), Michael Hepburn (Qld), Alexander Morgan (Vic), Mitchell Mulhern (Qld) and Glenn O'Shea (SA).