Australia tops the Track World Champs
19 April 2017
TRACK CYCLING: As a new Olympic cycle commences, Australian track cycling is celebrating a world-topping performance at the 2017 UCI Track World Championships in Hong Kong.
Australia finished the five-day Championships with eleven medals - three gold, five silver and three bronze won across seven events - and six more than Russia who was second with five medals.
On the final day of competition on Sunday, Callum Scotson and Cameron Meyer added silver to the tally with a superb effort in the 200-lap war of attrition event.
With a new Madison format introduced for the Championships with sprints after every ten laps of the 200-lap race (instead of every 20), what resulted was one of the fastest and most furious races ever seen.
“That ranks as one of the hardest I have done,” said Meyer after claiming his fifth Madison World Championship medal, and thirteenth career medal time.
Meyer added two gold to his career tally earlier in the week and now sits fourth all time for most world crowns behind Nakano (10), Chris Hoy (11) and Arnaud Tournant (14).
“They all have a proud spot at home and this one will go up there as a really special one.”
The pace was on right from the gun, with Australia team and the French pairing of Morgan Kneisky and Saturday’s omnium world champion Benjamin Thomas setting the early and cracking tempo.
Australia took the lead after 50 laps, however France remained close, with the two teams only three points apart at the 100 lap halfway mark.
With the craftiness of 2010 and 2011 world champion Meyer and vivacity of Scotson, Australia established a narrow lead as the race started to explode with 50 laps to the finish.
With the field scattered all across the Hong Kong Velodrome, France pounced over the final stages to score in six consecutive intermediate sprints.
Australia battled right to the final lap and grabbed points in three sprints, but it was just not enough as the French rode away with the crown on 45 points, four ahead of Australia (41pts), with Belgium claiming the bronze (32pts).
“We didn’t quite know how the new format would go at this level, sprinting every ten is one of the hardest things I have done,” said Meyer.
“So I am so happy to stand on the podium, that is one of the hardest events, it is gruelling, it requires everything.
“We weren’t far off gold, to win a silver with Callum just caps off a great week”
For Scotson, it was a case of putting it all on the line on Sunday with the South Australian waiting five days to race his lone event, which was also the final event of the Championships.
“It’s a little bit hard, I put so much effort into this one events, so it is tough to get so close and not take the gold,” said Scotson. “But I have a lot to be proud of. I really through it all out there with Cam.”
The win capped a stellar week for the men’s track endurance team which netted three gold.including both pursuit crowns and the points race title.
On Thursday, Australia charged to a sixth team pursuit world crown in eight years with an emphatic win over trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand, while Kerby scorched to the third fastest time in history during his individual pursuit win.
Meyer sealed a fourth points and eighth career world crown in a euphoric display on Friday.
The final night Madison silver and individual pursuit bronze from teenage sensation Kelland O’Brien rounded out the medals.
“We are really proud we could cap the week off with another medal, all week the atmosphere has just been amazing across the whole team,” said Meyer.
“But we will leave here with that hunger to come back and claim that world title.”
Also on the final day of competition, reigning national champion Nicholas Yallouris clocked a fine time fine 1mins 01.590secs to place 12th in his world championships 1km time trial debut.
Sydney’s Yallouris – who took gold with the men’s team pursuit quartet on Thursday evening – narrowly missed progressing through with the top eight to the finals by just .3 of a second.
South Australia’s Stephanie Morton is celebrating her most successful world championship campaign which included two podium appearances and a fourth at the Hong Kong Velodrome.
In her final event on Sunday, the women's keirin, two strong heat wins earlier in the day catapulted Morton into one of the pre-final favourites.
However a blistering ride from German legend Kristina Vogel saw her win a third keirin world crown and amazing ninth career rainbow jersey.
"I'm really happy, fourth is a bit annoying, just off the money, but it is the best (keirin) results I have had at a Worlds, so I will take it," said Morton, 26, who also scored a personal best in the flying 200m sprint qualifying and notched a team sprint national record.
Earlier in the week. Adelaide’s Morton launched herself onto the podium with a stunning silver in the women’s sprint just week’s after breaking her shoulder. This was just two days after opening the Championships with silver in the team sprint with Kaarle McCulloch.
"I am really happy overall with the Championships, but even if I didn't get the two medals, it is more about the little things that I came into here wanting to get right, I got right, which resulted in medals.
"So I think that is something you need to do at this level, the little things, because it is the one-percenters that make the difference out on the track.
"This championship finally paid off."
Tasmania’s Amy Cure, 24, made history by becoming the first person in track cycling history to win a medal in six different world championship events.
Cure’s 2017 world championships campaign came to a close with a trademark fighting performance to finish tenth in the 100-lap points race.
The result wrapped up Cure’s busy week which saw her find the podium three times and take her career world championship medal tally to eleven – the most by an Australian female cyclist behind legend Anna Meares (27 medals).
“It is nice to think that I have made history here, it makes me proud,” said Cure, who added the omnium and Madison medals to her career tally which already included a mix of rainbow jerseys and medals in the bunch races - points and scratch – and both the team and individual pursuits.
“But as nice as this is, I don’t counting the wins or losses I have.
“I going into every race as a new race with a clear mind, to give it my all and try to better myself with every event.
“I think sometimes if you can get too caught up in what you’ve done, there is no way to go forward if you’re looking at where you’ve been.”
On Thursday, Cure went agonizingly close to a third world title when she teamed with Ashlee Ankudinoff (NSW), Rebecca Wiasak (ACT) and Alexandra Manly (SA) to win silver in a heartbreaking women’s team pursuit final.
Cure then claimed bronze in the omnium, before a trademark Cure display saw her and Manly stage an epic fight in the women’s Madison to win bronze after the team crashed heavily twice during the 120-lap race.
In her final event, 2015 points world champion Cure figured in the mix early in the 100lap race, taking four points across the first two of ten sprints.
However the pace of the race pre race favourites in multiple track world champion Sarah Hammer, Britain’s Elinor Barker and Kirsten Wild was too much with the trio taking multiple laps to complete the podium.
“I might be disappointed in a few individual events, not getting those rainbows, but when you get back into your hotel room and read all the message and tweets, it puts things into perspective,” an exhausted Cure added.
“I went into the points race and gave it everything, but at the end of the day I can’t be disappointed with my effort, I wasn’t the best bike rider on the day. Full credit to Elinor, she was so strong out there and deserves the win."