Gold, silver on final day of World Cup competition
Cycling Australia's National Performance Director Kevin Tabotta is confident of a strong performance from the Cyclones at the London Olympic Games saying that the nation can expect to be in the running for a podium spot in each event in the velodrome. Tabotta's comments come following a successful UCI World Cup meet at the Olympic venue where Australia took home seven medals, including two gold.
The effort of the men's team pursuit squad which won gold on the final night of competition, was one which really impressed Tabotta given the prolonged amount of time that the nucleus of the team has produced benchmark results.
"We've really been on top for the last couple of years but it is always a challenge to stay on top," said Tabotta. "When you're coming from behind it is sometimes an easier task, easier to keep people's heads on and expectations at a level but when you're competing from the front you have to keep the wolves at bay and keep lifting it a notch every time.”
The Australian team of Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, Michael Hepburn, Alex Edmondson set the third fastest time in history (3:54.615) on night four to win gold ahead of Great Britain.
Tabotta, like many pundits is expecting the world mark to tumble by the time the Olympics come around in August, with a World Championships also on the horizon in April.
"The challenge for the Olympics in August is whether we can go two or three seconds faster to win the gold medal," he said.
Bobridge explained that he believes the world mark could fall by at least three seconds over the next few months.
"I think come the Games we are going to see around the 3:51, 3:50 mark," he said. "We have proved it over the past few years, we are getting quicker every time we get on the boards."
Perhaps most impressive was the performance of 18-year-old Alex Edmondson who, after playing a key role in South Australia's gold medal showing in the team pursuit at the recent Australian championships, managed to keep world champion team member Luke Durbridge on the sidelines.
"Alex is the fastest 18 year old in the world now and it must have been pretty intimidating lining up alongside three world champions but he did a great job,"said Hepburn.
Cameron Meyer, Glenn O'Shea and Mitchell Mulhern are all chasing a spot on the team which has claimed gold at the world titles the last two years running.
Sister act in the omnium
Edmondson's sister Nettie won Australia's third silver medal of the World Cup with her second place on equal points and two seconds behind winner, Sarah Hammer (USA). It was her first omnium competition at an international level.
Edmondson seems to be on a roll after she took out the individual pursuit and points race at the Australian Championships. Earlier this week, the 20-year-old, won bronze in the team pursuit alongside Josie Tomic and Amy Cure, setting a new Australian record of 3:19.164.
"Four days of racing and seven races the last two days is a big ask but I felt most of the others were in the same boat so it was just keep your head and understand they're feeling it too," said Edmondson.
"My 3.41 in the pursuit I wasn't that happy with and when it came down to the count back that's where I suffered," she said. "It's the next thing I'll work towards for the next shot I get at it but it was definitely a great opportunity to be able to ride against these girls and for it to be my first one and for me to show I can keep my head and mix it with the big names."
It's performances like Edmondson's which gives Tabotta the belief that it won't just be Australia's established track stars who do well in London.
"We've worked pretty hard over the last four years to give ourselves more options and I don't think I'm being unrealistic in saying we believe we're in the hunt in most Olympic events but the difference between first place and fourth place is really up to them on the day,' Tabotta explained.
"It's easy to be favourite going in and run fourth or fifth but also quite possible for riders on the fringe to step up and win medals," Tabotta said. "I think we're a medal chance in every event."