Reigning women's team sprint world champion Kaarle McCulloch will head into next month's UCI Track World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, a favourite to retain her title if her form at the recent Australian track national championships is any indication.
The young sprinter from Sydney won four national titles during the week of competition in Adelaide, securing the green-and-gold jersey in the team sprint, individual sprint, keirin and 500m time trial.
Naturally the affable 22-year-old was naturally upbeat about her performances during the national titles. "This week's been pretty positive and I've continued training through the week," said McCulloch. "I had gym last Monday and I did an hour on the road on Saturday; what I'm seeing is positive because I'm not really fresh at all," she explained.
She was particularly pleased with her qualifying ride in the women's sprint, which came after a taxing trip to Beijing for the final round of the UCI Track World Cup. "I haven't done any speed work, really, which makes it encouraging for me to come out and ride an 11.3 [seconds] - a personal best - and know that I haven't done any speed work. I'm going to expect some pretty good times in Copenhagen," said McCulloch.
One of those who has felt the effects of the Beijing World Cup is Anna Meares. The world champion withdrew from the national titles on the eve of the event to rest in preparation for Copenhagen. She's McCulloch's partner in the team sprint and her form will obviously be vital in securing another world title for the pair.
McCulloch says she can learn from Meares' example in preserving her condition for important events. "I saw Anna this morning, and she's looking a bit fresher. I think she's been in the game long enough to know when her body's just tired and I think that's something I'm learning as well," she said.
"In Beijing I was just tired and I just kept pushing myself; when you're tired you just don't have anything and so this week was largely about training and pushing through. I think my body has taken a step up and I've coped alright with the intensity," added McCulloch.
Given her successful week in Adelaide, McCulloch's ambitions for the world titles are high. "I'm going to worlds to hopefully ride everything - that's what I've done at every world cup and world championships, and I think the way the program runs I can actually do that," she explained.
"Leading into London it might change a bit with just the three events [on offer] - I might take a lesser focus on the time trial, which has been my strongest event, and probably focus more on sprint and team sprint."