Anna Meares beats Victoria Pendleton in the semi-final to move onto the gold medal final
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Rivalry heats up again before next week's world championships
It is the track sprinting rivalry that will not go away. Victoria Pendleton fronted the media on Tuesday in Melbourne ahead of next week's UCI Track World Championships where she spoke of her on-going battle with Australian Anna Meares.
Despite saying that she is saddened by the fact that the pair used to have an amicable relationship, so much so that they once shared "a few beers" in Stuttgart after the world championships in 2003, Pendleton also fired a broadside at the reigning sprint, keirin and team sprint world champion.
"Anna and I are very different riders — she's someone who kind of likes to push the rules and I definitely don't," said Pendleton, who beat Meares for the sprint title at the Beijing Olympic Games.
"But there's nothing wrong with that. It's just slightly different styles and how we approach the same event.
"I was really annoyed when she cut me off in the keirin in 2006 because they don't re-start keirins and your chance is gone.
"That really shocked me because she apologised for doing it afterwards, saying ‘I'm sorry I hooked you, I didn't mean it to be dangerous' and I was like 'well, okay then, I wouldn't do it, you might do it'."
Rewind 12 months ago and Meares had the upper hand going into the 2011 worlds with two sprint wins under her belt against Pendleton. Even then, Meares was taking nothing for granted.
"Look if Vicky lost every race between now and the Olympics she would still be the biggest threat in the field," she said bluntly. "You can not by any means lose any respect for the fight and drive that she brings to this event."
Pendleton, 31, and Meares, 28, met most recently at the London Track World Cup where there was an epic showdown in the sprint semi final which was dubbed "the race of the series."
In their first heat Meares seized the initiative, leading it out, attacking first, and forcing Pendleton to chase. Pendleton came back at her but ran out of track: 1-0 Meares.
Round two saw Pendleton leading it out, trying to force Meares to the front, then riding her up the banking. High on the bend, just before the bell, Meares attacked hard, cutting across -- and very close to - Pendleton. But she had gone a little too early. Pendleton recovered, hunted her down and passed her on the home straight to win: 1-1. In the deciding heat she seemed to run out of steam, with Meares winning through to the final.
Pendleton promised to improve by the world championships. "I haven't really done a lot of tactical training yet. That's the next phase between now and the worlds and the Olympics especially.
"With the amount of training I've done in the sprint I'm really pleased with how it's gone today," Pendleton continued, "but I know there's a lot more to come."
The clash left Meares so exhausted that she lost to China's Guo Shuang (who Meares defeated to earn a place the Olympic final in 2008 where Pendleton won) in two straight heats.
It's expected that Pendleton and Meares will again meet in the three events - sprint, keirin and team sprint in Melbourne next week.
Meares will meet with the media today where her response is hotly anticipated.
- World championships