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Aussies obliterate world records at UCI Track World Championship

1 March 2019

CYCLING: Australia’s Leigh Howard (VIC), Kelland O’Brien (VIC), Samuel Welsford (WA) and Alex Porter (SA) obliterated their own world record on the way to winning the gold in team pursuit at the 2019 UCI Track World Championships in Pruszkow, Poland on Thursday.

Moments later, Ashlee Ankudinoff (NSW), Amy Cure (TAS), Annette Edmondson (SA) and Georgia Baker (TAS) completed the prestigious double when they claimed the women’s crown.

The trifecta of gold was completed by Sam Welsford who won scratch race gold less than half an hour after celebrating his team pursuit crown.

Men's Team Pursuit

Australia’s Leigh Howard (VIC), Kelland O’Brien (VIC), Samuel Welsford (WA) and Alex Porter (SA) smashed their own world record by nearly two seconds on the way to reclaiming the rainbow jersey at the World Championships in Poland on Thursday.

The Australian quartet, guided by Tim Decker, brought the Polish crowd to its feet as they scorched the Pruszkow Velodrome in a new world record time of 3mins 48.012secs (averaging 63.155km/h), bettering the astonishing ride at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (3:49.804) where they became the first team in history to crack the three-minute fifty barrier.  

“I am lost for words, this team is proving to be more and more special every time we come together,” said O’Brien.  

“What can I say except thank you, I am so grateful to be a part of this team,” said Howard. “I am fortunate that I have come back into the program with such a fantastic group, not just the riders but the staff has developed so much since I was last in the program and I couldn’t be more thankful to everyone.”

“Its a bit surreal to be honest,” said Porter. “I knew the boys were going quick, but I didn’t think we were going that fast.  I can’t put this into words properly, its crazy.

“It has been a rough season, I missed the first half rehabbing. Ten weeks ago when I broke eight bones and punctured a lung, I was just hoping to be here.”

Welsford, Howard, O’Brien, and debutant Cameron Scott (NSW) opened the team’s 2019 World’s campaign in style on Wednesday with the fastest qualifying time (3:52.152).

With Porter coming in for Scott, the quartet set a cracking near world-record pace in their first round matchup against New Zealand. However, they lost momentum when they were forced to navigate a splintered New Zealand after catching them with three laps to go before posting a time of 3mins 51.529.

Traditional rivals Great Britain didn’t stand a chance in the battle for the gold when the Australians pulled the throttle from the gun and never let go. Great Britain post a time of 3mins 50.810secs to win silver.

The team’s coach, Tim Decker was almost lost for words after the win.

“I’m a bit emotional,” revealed Decker. “It’s been a fantastic night and we probably exceeded our expectations in regard to time in the TP.

“We came in here with a real focus to nail our ride and try to execute a good, skilled ride and try to find a way to make it happen and give those guys a chance to chase the rainbow bands and they were hungry to chase.

“Yesterday we had a few challenges thrown at us, but we made our way into the final but they brought it together and came away with a pretty magical time.”

Less than half an hour ride and still dripping with sweat following the team pursuit world record ride, Welsford claimed a dramatic late victory in the scratch race.

“It has been a crazy thirty minutes, I am gobsmacked,” a shocked Welsford said. “To do a forty-eight with my boys Kel, Cam, Leigh, Porter, that’s the best thing I could ever imagine.

“To break our own world record and leading into the Olympics next year is bloody awesome.

“The icing on the cake is the win in the scratch race. It’s a dream come true for us.”

Women's Team Pursuit

Moments after cheering their male counterparts to team pursuit glory, Ashlee Ankudinoff (NSW), Amy Cure (TAS), Annette Edmondson (SA) and Georgia Baker (TAS) completed the prestigious double by claiming the women’s crown.

Fastest qualifiers on Wednesday (4:14.915), the quartet subbed in Alexandra Manly - who celebrated her twenty-third birthday on Thursday - in place of Edmondson for their first-round clash with Italy. A malfunction in the Australian starting gate, followed by a false start by the Italians, failed to rattle the Australians as they soared into the final with a stunning win in 4mins 13.913secs.

Edmondson returned for the final and the Australian quartet pounced on the British outfit from the gate, establishing a lead of half a second after one kilometre. In a tight tussle, the margin remained under one second for the entirety of the 16-lap race, with the Australians holding off a late fightback to win in a time of 4mins 14.333secs (averaging 56.619km/h), two-tenths of a second ahead of Great Britain (4:14.537).

“It still hasn’t sunk in, we always believed we could do it,” said Edmondson, who shared in the 2015 world title with Cure and Ankudinoff.  “We’ve got a great team vibe at the moment, everyone is really positive and really relaxed coming in and in a good mental space, so when you see your teammates doing well you do the same!

“We did all we could out there and we’re really happy to be world champions!”

Georgia Baker was ecstatic to claim her maiden elite world crown.

“We put three really strong rides together, we’re so happy to be world champions,” Baker said. “At the moment I am struggling for words I am so proud and happy be in the rainbows. We have worked super hard, not just us but also Macey and Kristina back at home. They deserve every bit of this too.”

Fellow Tasmanian Amy Cure was overcome with emotion following the win, her second after winning in 2015.

“It is so great to be able to share this moment with these girls, it has been a bit of a roller coaster year, so it’s great to be able to pull on the rainbows now and do it with this group.”

For Ankudinoff, she becomes the first Australian woman to win three career team pursuit world crown after claiming the 2010 (with Tomic and Kent) and 2015 crowns (with Edmondson, Cure and Hoskins).

“It has been a couple of years since we have been on the top step. This is definitely special to share it with the four other girls plus two at home, it is a very special moment and I will never forget this,” Ankudinoff said.

Celebrating her twenty-third birthday on Thursday, Alex Manly received the best present from her teammates as she cheered trackside during the final.

“Super special to share it with these girls, it is awesome. They gave me chocolates this morning but I think this present is a lot better,” Manly said.

After recording his first World Championship victory at the helm of the women’s track endurance program, a visibly emotional Jason Bartram lauded praise on the Australian Cycling Team.

“It means a lot, it really means a lot,” Bartram said. “I’m proud of the girls and we put everything into this.

“To see it come across and see those girls get what they work for every day means everything.

“The staff support we have is unreal, everyone chips in their little bit and plays their role and contributes to great performances. I could try and say names, but I hope everyone who has been a part of this along the way knows they are important and matter.”

Men's Keirin

Matthew Glaetzer (SA) finished fourth in the men’s keirin while Patrick Constable’s (SA) keirin ended in a photo finish in the quarterfinal round.

Women's Sprint

Little more than twelve hours after blistering the field to win the team sprint world title, Stephanie Morton (SA) and Kaarle McCulloch (NSW) took to the Pruszkow velodrome for the individual sprint competition.

Morton topped the flying 200m qualifying for the fourth-straight World Championships with a time of 10.546secs (averaging 68.272km/h) during Thursday afternoon’s session.

As the fastest qualifier, Morton was excused from the round 1/16 matchups before she comfortably won her round 1/8 clash with Madalyn Godby (USA).

Morton then accounted for Olena Starikova (UKR) in straight heats in the quarterfinals.

A sprint silver medallist at the past two World Championships, Morton’s run at a maiden sprint world title continues on Friday with the semifinals where she will face Germany’s rising star Lea Sophie Friedrich.

Kaarle McCulloch clocked the sixth fastest time (10.742) and knocked out Mandy Marquardt (USA) in round 1/16. However, her sprint campaign came to an end at the hands of Laurine van Riessen in the round 1/8.

Cycling Australia

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