Leigh Howard's return to the velodrome continues this month with the Aqua Blue Sports rider to make his first World Cup appearance since the 2010/11 season. Howard is one of 13 riders named in the Australian squads for the Cali and Los Angeles Track World Cup rounds later this month.
The 27-year-old spent several weeks training with the national team in Adelaide over January before making his debut with the new Irish Pro-Continental team at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and Herald Sun Tour. Fifth in the prologue, Howard came close again at the Sun Tour as he placed third on stage 3.
A three-time world champion on the track between 2009 and 2011, Howard turned his attention to the road in recent years, spending time with Orica-GreenEdge and IAM Cycling in the WorldTour. He returns to the track for the Cali Track World Cup where he will ride the madison, with the team pursuit a possibility.
He will be the senior rider in the men's endurance squad. Olympic team pursuit silver medallist Sam Welsford and fellow world champion in the same event from London last March, Alex Porter, will join Howard in Cali.
Nicholas Yallouris and Rohan Wight have also been selected for the Cali World Cup with Victorian duo Kelland O'Brien and Cameron Scott to make their debuts with the national elite team. O'Brien is the sole endurance rider to also be selected for the Los Angeles world cup the following weekend.
Thomas Clarke rounds out the men's team and is the only sprint rider to be selected by Australia for the two remaining track world cups of the season.
In the women's endurance squad, Rio Olympians Ashlee Ankudinoff, Amy Cure, and Georgia Baker spearhead the women's team pursuit squad which can also call upon two-time individual pursuit world champion Rebecca Wiasak. Australian U23 national road race and time trial champion Alex Manly completes the squad for the two World Cups.
It will then be a quick turn around for the World Cup riders with Australia hosting its national championships March 2-5 in Brisbane.
Women's Endurance: Ashlee Ankudinoff (NSW), Georgia Baker (TAS), Amy Cure (TAS), Alexandra Manly (SA) and Rebecca Wiasak (ACT)
Men's Endurance - Cali World Cup only: Leigh Howard (VIC), Kelland O'Brien (VIC) - (Cali and LA), Alex Porter (SA), Cameron Scott (NSW), Sam Welsford (WA), Rohan Wight (SA), Nicholas Yallouris (NSW)
Sprint: Thomas Clarke (SA).
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