The Australian team added another two gold and two silver medals to their collection overnight to finish on top of the medal table in the track events at the Junior World Championships being raced at altitude in Aquascalientes, Mexico. The latest victories came in the women's points race and the men's 1km time trial with Australia claiming silver in the Madison and women's keirin to give the Australians a final event tally of seven gold, three silver and two bronze medals.
West Australian Josephine Tomic, 18, who broke the world record to claim gold in the 2km individual pursuit on day two of competition, dominated the women's points race overnight to win her second World Champion's rainbow jersey. "The strategy was to get a few points early on and then at the halfway mark to attack and try and get away," explained Tomic. "Everyone was pretty much sitting on my wheel which made it hard in the beginning but then I laid off for a little bit before I launched my attack."
First year junior, Canberra's Tom Palmer, 17, set a new Australian record on his way to gold in the men's kilometre time trial. His time of 1'02"366, which is an average of 57.724 km/h, lowered the Australian mark by more than 1.5 seconds from previous record holder, West Australian Scott Sunderland.
"As I finished the race I could hear all the 'Aussies' on the inside of the track screaming really loudly so I knew it had to be a quick time," said Palmer who is a member of the Drapac Porsche Development Team. "Then it was a pretty nervous wait for more than an hour as everyone else tried to knock off my time."
New Zealand's Edward Dawkins came closest with 1'02"499 to claim silver. This is the fastest time ever recorded by a New Zealand cyclist at any level of competition.
In the Madison event Victorian pair Leigh Howard and Glenn O'Shea teamed to score silver behind Russia. O'Shea already had two gold medals in his collection from the omnium and teams pursuit while Howard won gold in the teams pursuit and bronze in the individual pursuit.
"We both had good form going in and we had done some training together so we were fairly confident of our chances," said O'Shea. "The Russians and Italians are always pretty strong though so we had to work for the medal."
"There were only five sprints (one every twenty laps of the 100 lap event) so it was important to start off well from the gun," explained Howard. "Unfortunately we were boxed in for the first sprint but we sorted that out for the next four and managed to win the final sprint and place second in two more.
In the women's keirin Perth's Josie Butler claimed silver after forcing her way into the final through the repechage.
"I made sure in the second round I didn't make the same mistake and in the final I rode on the front right behind the derny (pace motorbike)," said Butler. "After the derny pulled off I was waiting for someone to lead out the sprint so I could jump on their wheel and that worked exactly to plan. While unable to come around the Russian winner Victoria Baranova for the gold Butler hung on for silver.
National Junior Performance Director, Gary Sutton, says the team's performances have been some of the best he has ever witnessed.
"It's been an unbelievable journey from when we started with them after the Nationals in February, through three training camps to here," said Sutton. "I thought last year was the best ever as far as team spirit but this team is as good and I have nothing but praise for the results, planning and commitment achieved by both the athletes and staff.
"I'm also amazed at the attention we've received as a team from the Mexican fans," said Sutton. "We had to get the security guards to help us get out of the track tonight because of the hundreds of kids and adults wanting autographs and photos with the riders."
Despite the astonishing success of the team Sutton says there is still room for improvement. "I just did our final team talk and to be honest have taken two pages of notes on how we can raise the bar for next year," he said. "There'll be no sitting back and resting on our laurels and there are things we can do both on and off the bike to fine tune even more.
Bobridge, Meyer and Tomic will now turn their attention to the road events which begin on Thursday local time with the time trials followed by the road races on Sunday.
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