Australia collects two medals but surrender World Record to Great Britain
Australia has collected two bronze medals, ensured the maximum number of places for the men’s sprint events in Beijing and seen their teams pursuit world record fall to the crack British quartet on an eventful day two of the 2008 UCi Track Cycling World Championships.

Reigning Olympic Champions Brad McGee, Graeme Brown and Luke Roberts reunited and, with 2006 World Champion Mark Jamieson making up the four, rode a time of 4min00.089sec to defeat New Zealand in a trans-Tasman ride off for the bronze medal in the 4km teams pursuit.

The Australians were more than a second ahead of their rivals after the first kilometre and steadily increased their lead throughout which proved crucial when with two laps to go the well drilled precision of the Australians fell apart.
Brown’s concentration was so intense that he didn’t realise Roberts had pulled out after doing his job leaving his three team mates to finish it off and mistimed his final changeover where the rider on the front swings up the banking of the track before swinging back down to rejoin on the back wheel of the last rider.

“I went up for the normal swing you do when there are four guys and I just saw out oft he corner of my eye there were only two,” said an embarrassed Brown. “I cursed to myself a little bit and swung down as fast as I could (clipping a foam track marker and dropping off McGee’s wheel) but luckily Brad (McGee) thought to sit up a little bit and helped me to get to the finish.”

With the winning time taken on the front wheel of the third rider of the team to cross the line McGee realised there was a problem and reacted quickly.

“It’s not often you finish the last couple of laps of a pursuit riding around like postmen but you do what you have to do to make sure we got the medal,” laughed McGee who sat upright to slow himself down in a bid to suck Brown into his slipstream. ” Before that little incident it was a really good ride.”

“In the end it was close but it’s good that we can make mistakes like that now and still ride four minutes,” said Brown. “For us the main objective is August …. we came here as stepping stone for August so we’re looking forward to a great ride in Beijing.”

The bar has been set even higher for the Australians at the Olympic Games after Great Britain’s Edward Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Paul Manning and Bradley Wiggins combined to break the world record set by Australia (McGee, Roberts, Brown and Brett Lancster) to win gold in Athens in 2004. The Brits, coached by expatriot Australian Shane Sutton, ignited the Manchester crowd with a blistering 3min56.322sec to clip almost three tenths of a second off the previous record of 3min56.610sec and defeat Denmark for the gold medal.

In a show of sportsmanship the Australians immediately headed to the edge of the track to line up and personally congratulate their traditional rivals on their achievement.

“I said to Luke (Roberts) that’s what records are for (to be broken) and I really enjoy the fact (we’ve got) a real fight (at the Olympics),” said McGee. “They were always going to break it here, they’ve been on target and that’s stimulating (home crowd) and we know how that feels.

“But come Beijing we’re on an even playing field,” said McGee before responding with an emphatic yes to the question of whether Australia will claim the record back.

Jamieson welcomed the chance to be starting rider leading out three Olympic Champions.

“I’m really happy and we’re looking at (Australia) at the Olympics going stronger and faster,” said Jamieson. “It’s good to have these ‘old’ blokes back in along with some young blood in Jack (Bobridge) and it’s been a good result.”

Bobridge, a member of the Australian team that won the 2007 Junior World Championship, stepped into his first senior team to ride in the qualifying round here in Manchester.

“It felt really good (but) pretty nervewracking at first,” said Bobridge who made way for Roberts in the bronze medal ride. “I stepped up and rode four minutes (which is) a PB (perosnal best) for me and unfortunately I didn’t get to ride the final but they rode really well and deserved to be there.”

“He’s the fastest 18 year old in the world,” added Brown joining his team mates to praise the efforts of the South Australian teenager.

In the women’s 3km individual pursuit battle for bronze, 2004 Olympic silver medallist, Katie Mactier, also led from the front and held her form to deny Wendy Houvenaghel of Great Britain a place on the podium. Mactier clocked 3min32.347sec, almost two seconds faster than Houvenaghel, but was disappointed to not have made the ride off for gold.
“That’s the point, that’s where we want to be,” said the 2005 World Champion who has finished third for the past three years. “Third isn’t good enough but I rode a fast time in the bronze ride that would have given me a silver so, while it’s disappointing to get the bronze, we know what we need to do for the Olympics.

“We didn’t do a really big block of track work before this week because we’ll do that heading into Beijing,” she added. “There was nothing wrong with how I felt but at the Olympics there are three rounds and from past experience my second ride is always better than by first one and I’ll have that second chance.”

At World Championships the fastest two qualifiers ride off for gold and silver while the next two fastest contest the race for bronze. At the Olympic Games the top eight qualifiers qualify for a second round of head to head competition from which the fastest two winners vie for gold and the slowest two winners contest the bronze medal race.

The gold medal went to Great Britain’s Rebecca Romero in a time of 3min30.501sec with a massive winning margin of almost seven seconds over American Sarah Hammer (3min37.006sec) who claimed the silver medal.

In the men’s sprint competition three of Australia’s four entrants qualified for the first round of 24 with Ryan Bayley topping the Australian list as the ninth seed with a personal best time of 10.126sec for the flying 200m. Shane Perkins qualified tenth fastest in 10.150sec while Mark French was 19th fastest in 10.296sec. Daniel Ellis missed the cut clocking 10.377sec to finish 26th.

In the first round both Bayley and Perkins won through but French cam unstuck in his sudden death ride off against sixth seed Francois Pervis of France.

World Champion Theo Bos proved too strong for Bayley in the second round and Frenchman Mickael Bourgain knocked Perkins out in their heat. Both Australians then headed to the last chance repechage in a bid to rejoin the event but neither succeeded.

However despite no Australians making the quarter finals Bayley’s performance was good enough to keep him ranked in the top five in the world which secures for Australia the maximum number of starters in both the sprint and keirin in Beijing. Australia had already qualified for the teams sprint event.

Day three will see Kaarle McCulloch line up in the women’s sprint and 2007 bronze medallist, Cameron Meyer, will contest the men’s points race.

The 2008 UCI Track Cycling World Championships are being staged in Manchester, England from 26 to 30 March.

‘Cyclones’ Australian Team
Men – Sprint Team

  • Ryan Bayley (Alexander Heights , WA 09.03.1982)
  • Daniel Ellis (Ngunnawal, ACT 07.10.1988)
  • Mark French (Elwood, VIC 13.10.1984)
  • Shane Kelly (Ararat, VIC 07.01.1972)
  • Ben Kersten (Kiama, NSW 21.09.1981)
  • Shane Perkins (Hughesdale, VIC 31.12.1986)
  • Scott Sunderland (Hillarys, WA 16.03.1988)

Women – Sprint Team

  • Kaarle McCulloch (Gymea Bay, NSW 20.01.1988)

Women – Endurance Team

  • Katherine Bates (Northmead, NSW 18.05.1982
  • Belinda Goss (TAS, 06.01.1984)
  • Katie Mactier (St Kilda, VIC 23.02.1975)

Men – Endurance Team

  • Jack Bobridge (Mt Pleasant, SA 13.07.1989)
  • Graeme Brown (Menai, NSW 09.04.1979)
  • Leigh Howard (Waurn Ponds, VIC 18.10.1989)
  • Mark Jamieson (Acacia Hills , TAS 04.05.1984)
  • Bradley McGee Wentworthville, NSW 24.02.1976)
  • Cameron Meyer (Helena Valley, WA 11.01.1988)
  • Luke Roberts (Walkerville , SA 25.01.1977)
  • Phillip Thuaux ( Point Clare, NSW 09.07.1979)

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