Big guns primed for Track Worlds

Britain and Australia will look to impress in Manchester

Going back to the drawing board will not be an option for any of the major track cycling nations at the end of the world championships this week.

With the Beijing Olympics just around the corner, track giants Britain, France and Australia know it’s now time to set down markers or forget dreaming about gold medal success in China this August. While Australia set a blistering pace on the Athens Olympic velodrome in 2004, in the past two years they have been playing catch-up to the new track pace-setters Great Britain.

Bradley Wiggins, who won world titles in individual and team pursuit during Britain’s domination of last year’s championships in Mallorca, said: "We haven't been in a position like this for a long time or been this confident going into a major Championship."

Certainly, the team has a lot to live up to. Last year the combined exploits of Victoria Pendleton, Chris Hoy, Wiggins and his fellow team pursuiters helped Britain top of the medals table with seven gold and 11 in total.

Australia's double Olympic champion Ryan Bayley, meanwhile, failed to qualify for the finals of the sprint and keirin and their once-feared pursuit team, albeit in experimental formation, failed to qualify for the medal rounds for the first time since 2001. It is perhaps a sign of their intent that three of their Olympic gold-winning pursuiters from Athens - Brad McGee, Luke Roberts, and Graeme Brown - are all in the squad for Manchester.

As well as fighting for places, the Australian 'Cyclones' will have to make amends for last year when only Anna Meares and Katherine Bates' gold-winning

exploits on the final day saved their blushes and hoisted them up to second in the table on two gold and six medals in total.
Wiggins: "I think we'll be faster than we were at the Worlds last year."

Meares has vowed to be big in Beijing, but will unfortunately miss the Worlds as she continues recovering from a nasty crash at the Los Angeles World Cup which left her with back, neck and arm injuries.

The Netherlands last year finished third on one gold, thanks mainly to flying Dutchman Theo Bos - who could pip both Britain and Australia's men in the Manchester speed events of the keirin and sprint.

But a few eyes will also be on Bayley, the Perth sprinter who starred at the 2004 Olympics with a double gold haul from the sprint and keirin as Australia dominated with five gold, two silver and two bronze. After last year's below par displays, the word is that Bayley is on form and ready to put in a big performance. Two of the other highlights in Manchester will be the battle for team pursuit supremacy, and the honours in the men's team sprint - in which France are currently world champions.

Australia hold the world record time of 3min 56.610sec - set at the Athens Olympics - a time that Britain edged closer to last year in Mallorca. Wiggins believes that he is going "as fast, if not a bit faster" than ever in the individual pursuit and he reckons the British team have the speed to set a new world mark on home turf.

"I think we'll be faster than we were at the Worlds last year. If ever there is an occasion to do it, it's here because of how fast the track runs, the conditions, the way everyone is going."

Track World Championships Schedule:

March 26

Men Individual Pursuit

Men Scratch Race

Men Team Sprint

Women 500m Time Trial

March 27

Men Team Pursuit

Women Individual Pursuit

Women Team Sprint

Men Sprint Rounds & Quarter Final

March 28

Men Points Race

Men Sprint Semi-final & Final

Women Team Pursuit

Women Sprint Rounds & Quarter Final

March 29

Men Madison

Men Keirin

Women Points Race

Women Sprint Semi-final & Final

March 30

Men Omnium

Men 1 Kilometre Time Trial

Women Scratch Race

Women Keirin

Back to top