The opening night of the UCI Track World Championships saw Australia showing signs of regaining its position as dominant nation in the sport, with Anna Meares and Cameron Meyer both claiming gold medals.
Meares kicked off the 'Cyclones' strong start with a victory in the women's 500m time trial. A two-time world champion, Meares holds the last Olympic title in the event, having won gold in Athens before the event was struck from the programme. She was thrilled to add another rainbow jersey in the discipline with a perfectly executed two-lap race.
"When I crossed the line and saw the 33.3 I thought it was a great time, but I wasn't sure that was going to win it," said Meares. "It was so tight, right down to the line but I'm so pleased that I've won this."
World record holder Simona Krupeckaite (Lithuania) fell just shy of retaining her rainbow jersey, clocking a 33.462 to Meares' 33.381, while Belarus' Olga Panarina claimed the bronze.
Krupeckaite set the night's fastest final half-lap, but it wasn't enough to get ahead of Meares who was faster in all previous time checks. "She actually comes home harder in the second lap than she does going out in the first lap so I thought that I was actually in quite significant trouble," added the Australian.
"It was a little bit unlucky for her not to come home as strongly as she normally does, but credit to her. She's a phenomenal rider, and for me to beat her I feel quite privileged.
Meyer defends points race title
Adding further reason for the Australians to celebrate was 22-year-old Cameron Meyer, who followed up on Meares' success by winning his second consecutive points race title in a commanding fashion.
Meyer was one of four riders to finish the race a lap ahead of the rest of the field, but was the only rider to gain two laps, netting a 20-point bonus for each lap. With that and four sprint wins and numerous placings along the way, Meyer sealed his win with 70 points, a massive 37 point ahead of second placed Peter Schep of the Netherlands.
"I had a really good night. I was very confident going into it. I had very good legs and kept to my tactic," Meyer said after the race.
"I knew that in the second half of the bike race I was going to be one of the strongest there, and I knew I just had to be confident going into that second half. That’s what I did."
After taking a lap in the first half of the race with Schep, Czech Milan Kadlec and Belgian Ingmar de Poortere, Meyer slipped away after solo for a second lap with about 48 laps to go. It took him more than 10 laps to regain the field, but when he did he knew he could win.
"While I was out there, I just controlled my breathing, controlled myself, took the points and took the lap. I knew from there all I had to do was control the rest of the riders for 30 laps and I had it won."
The strategy worked, and Meyer ended the evening donning his second rainbow jersey in a row in the points race.