Anna Meares has described Chinese rival Shaung Guo as one of the toughest sprinters in world track cycling as she prepares for the International Cycling Union (UCI) Track World Cup, which commences from tomorrow in Melbourne, Australia. Guo and Meares went head-to-head at last year’s Olympic Games in Beijing in a clash that saw Guo disqualified in front of her home crowd.
The rivalry will move to Meares’ home shores as the sprint events get underway tomorrow. “[Guo] is one of those riders that you hate drawing because you know it is going to be really, really difficult,” Meares said. “In the quarter finals (in Beijing) we had to line up against each other four times which is really unusual in a sprint tournament.
“It would have been very tough to be disqualified in front of a home Olympic crowd and to her credit she is a beautiful person and has always still said hi to me and shaken my hand after a competition,” added Meares.
Meares’ comments came as she joined Victorian Premier John Brumby today to launch the World Cup’s second round. The Olympic gold medallist didn’t describe Guo’s racing style as aggressive, however, instead choosing to reserve that label for herself and a French opponent.
“She is definitely one of the toughest,” said Meares. “I wouldn’t say the most aggressive, I think Klara Sanchez of France is one of the most aggressive and you could probably throw my hat in there as well, but [Guo is] definitely one of the toughest to come up against.”
Meares is looking forward to returning to Hisense Arena for tomorrow’s World Cup, where she will contest the women’s sprint, team sprint, 500m time trial and keirin.
“It’s a really good feeling [to be here], lots of energy, lots of excitement but a little bit of nerves in there as well,” said Meares. “A home World Cup is always very important, there are only four legs of this World Cup in the world each year and we are very fortunate to have one in Australia and particular here in Melbourne where the crowd really do come and support the Australian cyclists.
While Meares admits she’s not raced at the Melbourne velodrome often, the venue played a key role in her journey back from injury to compete at last year’s Olympic Games. During the Revolution 3 event held at the arena, Meares clocked 11.189 seconds for the flying 200 metre which was well under the target 11.77 seconds set for her Olympic pre-nomination. That ride occurred just five months after Meares’ cracked her C2 vertebra at the Los Angeles Track World Cup in the United States of America.
“I have nothing but good feelings on this track and I love coming here,” she said. “I haven’t raced here too often but the world championships in ’04 where I won a gold and a silver, and the Commonwealth Games in ’06 where I won a gold and a silver and also World Cup’s as well so it’s been fantastic with my history here and I am hoping the future will also be as positive.”
Follow Cyclingnews on Twitter for the very latest coverage of events taking place in the cycling world - twitter.com/cyclingnewsfeed