By Ben Atkins in Manchester
A bronze medal would have been regarded as a disappointment a few years ago for a nation bred on Olympic titles and World records, but after a time away from the top echelons of team pursuiting, this marks a successful return for Australia.
Were it not for the confusion caused when Graeme Brown failed to notice Luke Roberts dropping out in the final kilometre, the medal winning time could have been much faster. "If you look at the times in the results, you'd thing 'Ahh, the Aussies are past it' maybe, but I don't think so. I think for us this is just a stepping stone for Beijing, and four minutes we're very happy with," said a slightly embarrassed Brown.
"I just didn't know," he said of his missed changeover. "I was just focused on the race and I didn't hear a ‘three', I'm sure it was yelled a hundred times but I didn't hear or see or anything. I just swung for four guys - for three guys - and I just saw out of the corner of my eye that there's only two there, and I swung down the track as hard as I could and dug it in. It's lucky Brad was thinking quick and sat up a bit, and gave me a bit more of a chase and a bit more slipstream. So his quick thinking might have saved the day."
Bradley McGee confirmed what their performance could have been, had the hiccup not occurred. "I think we were on a low 59, which would have been nice. Brownie asked me this morning what I reckoned we do in the race and I said a flat 59," McGee added. If the last few laps had gone more smoothly, this would have sent out a clear message that the reigning Olympic champions are well on track for August's Games. A sub-four-minute time from a team that has had such little recent track time would be a considerable result.
Speaking on the subject of the rival British team's shattering of Australia's world record, McGee was congratulatory, yet cautiously optimistic about his own team's ability to close the gap in time for Beijing: "I think the British have performed to a level, them, us, and everyone else expected, and good on ‘em. The pressure was on, because they've obviously put a lot of work in to be on super form here at the World Championships in front of a home crowd, and they've come up with the goods. Now it's up to them to maintain that intensity right through to August.
"I'm not saying... how can I put this? We've got a lot of work to do, we're on the way up and that's a very powerful thing to ride with. It's going to be an interesting time over the next few months to see us put our package together, and what they can do to maintain or try and increase. I think once again we'll see some very spectacular racing come Beijing."