The US and Australia have announced strong teams for the world track championships in Manchester, 26-30 March.
Australia, traditionally a dominant nation in track cycling, has nominated a powerful men’s sprint team including top riders like Ben Kersten, Ryan Bayley, Scott Sunderland and Shane Kelly, and they will certainly be challenging for medals against the other strong sprint nations of Britain and France.
Anna Meares has been named to Australia's sprint team despite a crash at the Los Angeles track World Cup which was expected to put her off the bike for four to six weeks. Newcomer Kaarle McCulloch will be Australia's other female sprinter, taking on British stars such as Victoria Pendleton.
Australia's men's endurance team is yet to be finalised. Selectors have named a long list who will participate in a pre-Worlds training camp in from 10 - 22 March after which the final team selection will be made.
That list includes perennial team pursuit riders such as Graeme Brown, Brett Lancaster and Bradley McGee as well as rising stars such as Cameron Meyer and Leigh Howard. The strength in depth of the long team suggests Australia is treating the world's as a serious rehearsal for the team pursuit in the Beijing Olympics.
Kathy Bates, Belinda Goss and Katie Mactier are the only three endurance riders on the team list and therefore will be the in the women’s 3,000m team pursuit, if Australia decides to contest the event which debuts in the World Championships in Manchester. Mactier and Bates could also be among the main challengers in the individual event if selected.
If I had a Hammer
The USA's best chance for medals is 2006 and 2007 pursuit world champion Sarah Hammer. Her consistent form throughout the four recent World Cup events saw her finish second overall in the series.
Taylor Phinney is a newcomer to the world's with huge potential. The son of former top professional Davis Phinney (the first American to win a stage of the Tour de France), he is the 2007 junior world champion in the individual pursuit and took out that deiscipline at the Los Angeles World Cup.
Colby Pearce and Bobby Lea have turned in some good rides in Madison this year, including second in the Copenhagen World Cup after lapping the field. Pearce will race in the Madison with Michael Friedman while Lea will compete in the men’s Omnium event in Manchester.
Men: Michael Blatchford (sprint); Adam Duvendeck (sprint); Michael Friedman (scratch race, Madison); Bobby Lea (Omnium); Colby Pearce (points race, Madison); Taylor Phinney (individual pursuit)
Women: Sarah Hammer (individual pursuit); Becky Quinn (scratch race, points race); Jennie Reed (sprint, Keirin)
Men sprint: Ryan Bay; Daniel Ellis; Mark French; Shane Kelly; Ben Kersten; Shane Perkins; Scott Sunderland)
Women sprint: Kaarle McCulloch; Anna Meares
Women endurance: Katherine Bates; Belinda Goss; Katie Mactier
Men endurance 'long' list: Jack Bobridge; Graeme Brown; Matthew Goss; Leigh Howard; Mark Jamieson; Brett Lancaster; Bradley McGee; Cameron Meyer; Luke Roberts; Phillip Thuaux