Australians Chloe Macpherson and Skye-Lee Armstrong each won gold on the final day of the Junior Track Cycling World Championships in Vienna, Austria. Their victories saw the Australian team finish with a total of seven medals - two gold, one silver and four bronze.
Armstrong, who claimed the Scratch and Points race Australian Titles in February, took the Scratch Race World Title by a wheel rim width in a photo finish ahead of Korean Unmi Park. In 2004 on debut at the World Championships, Armstrong finished third in the Keirin.
"I didn't even know if I would race at all because of an injury to my left knee so I was really out to prove a point," said Armstrong who crashed at a pre-World's training camp in Sydney leaving her with an inflamed knee and painful knee cap. "The race was pretty much go from the gun and there were crashes in the first couple of laps and throughout the race.
"The German girl almost lapped the field and no-one wanted to help chase her down so I had to work really hard to stop the gold medal from riding away from me," explained Armstrong. "Finally we caught her but I was really knackered and short of breath by then and with two laps to go I was about 15 riders back.
"I just forced my way through but was still ten back with one lap to go," she said. "It was a case of go for the gaps and hope for the best."
Armstrong says she knew she was first across the line but was hesitant about raising her arm in victory.
"I was waiting to see if I'd be disqualified because there was a gap I went through that shut down almost immediately and behind me I heard someone crash so I wasn't sure if I had caused it or not," said Armstrong, who it turns out had not caused the crash and the officials in fact disqualified two other riders. "Then I figured I may as well celebrate and enjoy the moment while I had it and that turned out to be the right thing to do as they announced me as the World Champion."
Meantime Macpherson has burst onto the track cycling scene with gusto. A six time BMX junior World Champion (1998 - 2003), Macpherson this year decided to compete in track cycling and launched her campaign with a gold medal in the U19 sprint at the Australian Championships in Adelaide. Her performance earned her a berth in the Junior Australian Team. Junior team sprint coach, Darryl Benson, says Macpherson rode with a maturity and poise well beyond her years and showed great composure in all three rounds.
"In the first round covered all the moves and won the heat and then in the second round she did what she needed to do to get through to the final," said Benson. "Basically our tactic for Chloe in the final was to give her the biggest shove possible off the start line to get her to the front just behind the pace bike.
"After the pacer moved she was to gradually pick up the pace, hold onto the front position and let everyone else fight it out behind her," he explained. "She rode the plan to perfection and kept them all at bay and when the moves started coming in the final lap and a half she covered them all to set herself up for the win."
Macpherson sprinted home to win by more than half a wheel and after the ceremony grabbed her bags and headed off for four days sightseeing with her Mum.
"Chloe was thrilled with the win because she put in a really good ride in the 500m time trial but missed a medal by a tenth of a second," said Benson. "Then in the sprint she was scrubbed after she misjudged the distance and cut down too close in front of her rival.
"She was really upset by that but to her credit she bounced back and was really focussed for the keirin."
The other medals for Australia were Bianca Rogers' silver in the 2km Individual Pursuit and a bronze medal ride by the Team Sprint trio of Scott Sunderland, Daniel Ellis and Jeremy Hogg. Perth's Sunderland knocked a second and a half off his personal best in the Kilometre Time Trial to add another bronze to his collection. The quartet of Zak Dempster, Cameron Meyer, Mitchell Pearson and Matthew Pettit claimed bronze in the Team Pursuit while Meyer and Pearson picked up another bronze in the Madison.
"The times were exceptional this year and our riders acquitted themselves really well considering many are first year juniors and they were up against more experienced rivals," said Benson. "This team is a rebuilding exercise and now we know we have the kids we can set up for next year and into the future."
The Junior Road World Championships will be raced in Burgenland today (time trials) and Sunday (road races).