By Les Clarke in Melbourne
Alexei Markov, Karl-Christian König plus local boys Glenn O'Shea and Leigh Howard have all travelled to Australia to ride the track World Cup in Melbourne after taking part in several of this season's Six Day races in Europe.
O'Shea, Markov and König rode the men's 30km points race on the opening night of competition, with the Australian taking out the exciting 120-lap event. Later in the evening, the Russian rode the individual pursuit final against Australia's Jack Bobridge, although he failed to overcome the young South Australian.
Australian duo Glenn O'Shea and Leigh Howard have been competing on the Six Day circuit, taking part in the UIV series for U23 riders, held in conjunction with the senior events.
Following an Australian domestic road season, the pair competed in the Amsterdam and Munich Six Days, and the Manchester round of the World Cup squeezed in between. O'Shea said, "In the first one [Amsterdam] I found it a little bit harder to back up, and as we went on to Manchester and Munich I didn't have any problems at all."
One of the features of Six Day racing is the smaller track that events are held on, and this slightly changed O'Shea's riding style. "I rode a smaller gear, which saves the legs a bit; in Amsterdam I found it a little bit difficult, but after Munich I was fine."
Another potential problem for Six Day racers is the possibility of saddle sores, due to the high cadence riding and extended periods in the saddle. O'Shea didn't have such issues, although preventing it was part of the learning experience.
"You've got to make sure you look after yourself and hope stuff like that doesn't happen."
Speaking before his gold medal ride in the points race, O'Shea wasn't sure if the different preparation – riding Six Day races – would stand him in better stead to do well over the season. "We've had a pretty good preparation, done a lot of Madison riding and a lot of bunch racing. It was a little bit difficult there [in Europe] because we didn't have our road bikes and we were probably a little bit underdone in terms of kilometres.
"Leigh and I had a big road season [in Australia] and so we've done the miles in the last six months."
O'Shea gave us an indication of what to expect on Saturday night when he and Leigh Howard sling each other around the Hisense Arena during the Madison. "We've done quite a few Madisons now, and we tend to lean on each other a little bit. We know each other's strengths because we've been racing against each other since we were 10 years old. We know when one or the other's having a bad day and we can read each other pretty well. It's good."