Queensland's Anna Meares, 23, fought back from a low qualifying position to claim the gold medal in the sprint on the opening day of the Los Angeles Track Cycling World Cup.
Meares rode 11.716sec for the flying 200 metres to qualify tenth fastest and setting up a tough battle to get through to the finals. "It wasn't a bad time just not the ideal qualifying position for sprint rounds," said Meares. "I set myself up for one of the hardest runs but I was just getting the legs into gear after stepping off the plane and getting my head into gear. Once I got into the sprinting I snapped myself into it and got in the mood." she said.
Meares found her form to win through to a semi-final match up with German rider Jane Gerisch. "It was a very hard semi final because it ended up being a best of four heats," explained Meares. "We dead heated the first one, I lost the second and then I won the last two.
Despite the additional efforts required in the semi final Meares backed up strongly for the gold medal final against Frenchwoman and second seed Clara Sanchez. "In the first heat of the final I went running at her from the back [Meares won - ed.] and the second one was going too slow for me so coming into the bell I jumped and gave it everything I had and won by a fair bit," she said describing her win in two straight heats in the best of three races.
Meanwhile, Sarah Hammer (Temecula, Calif./Ouch Pro Cycling) broke her own national record in the women's three-kilometer individual pursuit . Hammer clocked a time of 3:32.058 to also record a new personal best and set an ADT Event Center velodrome record in the event. Hammer first eclipsed the 11-year-old mark in October of 2006 at the USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships, clocking a time of 3:32.865 to shatter the previous record of 3:36.080 set by Rebecca Twigg in 1995.
At the Los Angeles World Cup a year ago, Hammer turned in a time of 3:37.799 in her qualifying round before capturing the gold medal. Sarah Ulmer of New Zealand currently holds the world record in 3:24.537 - a mark she set at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Hammer will race for the gold medal in Saturday night's final against Verena Joos of Germany.