The Australian Cyclones have taken out the Sydney round of the World Cup Track Cycling Series which wrapped up on Sunday at the Dunc Gray Velodrome.
The Australians ended the three day event with 132 points after claiming four gold, two silver and three bronze medals and six other top ten placings to finish 12 points clear of the Netherlands who won six gold medals in Sydney but only 120 points. But the Dutch had cause to celebrate when they were named the 2005 World Cup winning nation after the four round series.
Queensland’s Anna Meares won her second gold of the meet when she attacked the field 350 metres from home for a dominant keirin victory. Her win also earned her the title of keirin World Cup Series champion.
"I had planned to go even earlier but they (the other riders) had cottoned onto that so I had to delay a little bit," explained Meares. "Then it was a dilemma as to when to go and what to do.
"Then I thought I’d lead Kerrie (sister) out in front of the hitters but it didn’t work out that way either," she explained. "I’m still pretty happy with how it went because keirin racing doesn’t go to plan all the time."
Sydney’s Katherine Bates (22) claimed silver in the scratch race which was enough to give her the World Cup Series crown for that event. At the third round in Manchester in January Bates won the scratch race, points race and individual pursuit and claimed the same three events at last week’s Australian Championships to earn the title of Champion of Champions and is now focussed on the podium at the Los Angeles World Championships (March 23-27).
Today Bates rode aggressively throughout but couldn’t shake her rivals.
"I had a few digs but when I tried one of the others would come with me," said Bates. "it’s pretty cool to be World Cup Champion though."
With seven laps of the 40 lap race remaining China’s Yunmei Wu (20), launched a solo attack but she was reeled in on the last lap with Italian Annalisa Cucinotta (18) sprinting strongly to claim gold ahead of Bates and team mate Rochelle Gilmore (23). However, Gilmore was later relegated to last place for dangerous riding during the race and the bronze was awarded to New Zealand’s Catherine Sell.
"I was confident I could bring her back but I didn’t want to chase for the last five laps when everyone else swung up," said Bates who found herself out of position in the final lap. "Then on the bell the Italian had un unreal position and you can’t win from five back."
Bates and Gilmore had been directed by National Endurance Coach to race their own race as part of the selection process for the Ausralian Cyclones for LA. Gilmore opted to tail Bates knowing she was one of the strongest endurance riders in the field.
"We were told before the race you don’t have to work together because but don’t get in each other’s way," said Bates. "That’s fair enough because we all want to go for our spot and Rochelle’s more a sprinter so she always rides that way and I like to make the race and control the attacks.
"With two to go I’m always on the front and she’s always on the wheel but the stronger I get the harder it is for her to come around me."
Australia’s bronze medal of day three came in the teams sprint when the first time combination of Ben Kersten, Jobie Dajka and Joel Leonard posted 46.267 seconds to beat China’s Xinzhu Cheng, Zhiguo and Liheng Yan (47.757) in the ride off for third place.
"After the first ride I was a bit knackered but that medal ride had good spark and formation with Ben and Jobie getting me underway well," said Leonard (23) who is racing in his first World Cup. "It’s been hard racing every day but it makes you more of a person and a lot fitter."
Dajka and Kersten admit they were also feeling the effects of a tough couple of weeks racing but are confident of freshening up for the World Championships.
"I would have liked to go a little bit faster," said Kersten. "But I haven’t done any training for this event as the kilolmetre has been my focus."
France claimed the gold and overall World Cup crown with Gregory Bauge, Arnaud Tournant and Francois Pervis riding 44.837 to defeat Japan’s Kazuya Narita, Yusho Oikawa and Kazunari Watanabe (46.526) in the gold medal final.
Sydney’s Chris Sutton came to grief 101 laps into the 160 lap (40km) Madison after a handsling change-over went horribly wrong but he remounted his bike and recovered to rejoin partner Richard England. However, they were unable to answer an attack by Ukraine pair Dmytro Grabovskyy and Volodymyr Rybin who lapped the field 52 laps from home and then defended their lead to the end winning the gold on 5 points and a lap advantage over Denmark’s Michael Morkov and Alex Rasmussen (23 points) with Great Britain’s Mark Cavendish and Thomas White third on 13 points.
"I spent six laps trying to get back up to the top six guys," said England who had to race alone until Sutton rejoined. "Then when CJ (Sutton) got back in they (the contenders) were driving and it took me 40 laps to fully recover from the previous effort and that’s a big chunk of the race."
"It happened at a bad time," said England of the crash which occurred when the Australians were in medal contention. "But that’s the luck of the draw - sometimes you come out in front and sometimes you don’t."