Aussies dominate 2010 Track World Championships

Cracks appearing in British armour

Australian track cycling's renaissance after their one-medal disaster of the Beijing Olympics moved a step closer to completion at the end of an impressive world championships campaign.

But after topping the table with 10 of the 57 medals, including six gold, Shayne Bannan's young team has been warned not to dream too much about imitating their 2004 Olympic achievements.

Despite coming out on top for the second consecutive year, Bannan knows obstacles will litter the path to Olympic glory in two years' time.

But he is adamant they won't experience another nightmare like Beijing, when Britain won 14 of the 30 track medals including seven gold, and Anna Meares saved Aussie blushes with a silver from the sprint.

"To achieve the same kind of success in London as they did in Beijing is going to be a tough call (for Britain), and they would understand that," Bannan told AFP. "I think it's shaping up to be ultra-competitive in London."

The likelihood of a repeat performance looks slim, given the recent reform of the Olympic track programme and the fact both sexes will race five events: sprint, team sprint, keirin, team pursuit and omnium.

New rules also mean countries can now only enter one rider per discipline.

Ultimately though, Australia's performances left both Bannan, and his British counterpart Dave Brailsford, impressed.

"Shayne's done a brilliant job and we've been in competition for a long time now," said Brailsford. "When they came to the Commonwealth Games in Manchester (2002) they kicked our arses. Then in Athens, they were on top but we've managed to turn it around in the last Olympic (four-year) cycle.

"And they're coming back at us, which is great."

Australia beat three-time defending champions Britain to win back the men's world team pursuit title, and Cameron Meyer, who won the non-Olympic points race, teamed with Leigh Howard to win the Madison, also now non-Olympic.

Anna Meares won another non-Olympic event in the 500m time trial, and teamed up with Kaarle McCulloch to win the women's team sprint in a world record time.

Australia's other victories came in the women's team pursuit, which will make its Olympic debut in London.

"We're all pretty happy with what we've achieved here. It's really good for the self-belief of the team, which is mostly young, and we wanted to create a winning culture," insisted Bannan.  "We've got the talent to be competitive in London."

Victoria Pendleton was disappointed after finishing second in the women's keirin

While Australia will now begin to focus only on Olympic events, Britain has already started. They did not enter athletes in any of the non-Olympic events in Copenhagen.

"We're an Olympic team looking to perform at our home Olympics. And our strategy is ruthlessly built around doing exactly that," said Brailsford.

Gregory Bauge beat Shane Perkins to win the men's sprint. Sir Chris Hoy didn't make the finals

Although "concerned" about the three-man sprint event, Australian coach Bannan was buoyed by Shane Perkins' promising silver medal finish in the sprint tournament behind Frenchman Gregory Bauge.

Bannan admitted there would be few opportunities for additions to his formidable pursuit squad - currently composed of Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, Michael Hepburn, Cameron Meyer and Leigh Howard.

"There won't be any opportunities for guys to come into that team, unless it's younger guys coming through," he said.

For the team pursuit in London Britain expect to court Welshman Geraint Thomas, are hoping to persuade Bradley Wiggins into returning and are priming Sydney 2000 kilo gold winner Jason Queally, 40, for a shock return.

Britain's endurance coach Dan Hunt told AFP: "The Aussies have come here and thrown absolutely everything at it, and they've come out on top by a couple of tenths. We'll go home and lick our wounds a bit, but we'll be back."

"They're a formidable team. But pound for pound, looking on who we've got in the background I'd still back us going into the Olympics."

To that, Bannan said: "18, 19, 21 and 22. The (team pursuit) boys have never been to the Olympics before. They're young, fully committed and focused and are only going to get better of the next couple of years."  

"We didn't expect to get the results we got here but our philosophy remains the same. It's all a part of the long process towards London," added Bannan. "Success brings challenges. We're all pretty happy about what we've achieved here, but there's areas we'll be looking at that we need to improve on and that's the Olympic disciplines.

"We need to prioritise and focus on them the next two years."

© AFP 2010

Event winners

Men
Sprint: Gregory Bauge (FRA)
Team sprint: Germany (Robert Forstemann, Maximilian Levy, Stefan Nimke)
Keirin: Chris Hoy (GBR)
Kilometre: Teun Mulder (NED)
Individual pursuit: Taylor Phinney (USA)
Team pursuit: Australia (Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, Michael Hepburn, Cameron Meyer)
Madison: Australia (Leigh Howard/Cameron Meyer)
Points race: Cameron Meyer (AUS)
Scratch: Alex Rasmussen (DEN)
Omnium: Ed Clancy (GBR)
Women
Sprint: Victoria Pendleton (GBR)
Team sprint: Australia (Anna Meares/Kaarle McCulloch)
500m time trial: Anna Meares (AUS)
Keirin: Simona Krupeckaite (LTU)
Individual pursuit: Sarah Hammer (USA)
Team pursuit: Australia (Ashlee Ankudinoff, Sarah Kent, Josephine Tomic)
Points race: Tara Whitten (CAN)
Scratch: Pascale Jeuland (FRA)
Omnium: Tara Whitten (CAN)

Final medals table

Gold Silver Bronze Total
Australia 6 2 2 10
Britain 3 5 1 9
France 2 3 2 7
United States 2 0 1 3
Canada 2 0 0 2
Lithuania 1 1 3 5
Netherlands 1 1 0 2
Germany 1 0 1 2
Denmark 1 0 0 1
New Zealand 0 2 2 4
China 0 2 0 2
Colombia 0 1 0 1
Cuba 0 1 0 1
Malaysia 0 1 0 1
Belarus 0 0 3 3
Belgium 0 0 1 1
Czech Republic 0 0 1 1
Spain 0 0 1 1
Japan 0 0 1 1

For full coverage of the 2010 Track World Championships, visit Cyclingnews.com.

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