Aussie rid­ers hit golden form

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT -

THE stun­ning suc­cess of Aus­tralia’s track cy­clists at the world cham­pi­onships has raised the pos­si­bil­ity of them re­plac­ing the swim­mers as the nation’s flag­ship t e a m a t n e x t y e a r ’ s Olympics. Spear­headed by Anna Meares, they en­joyed a record-break­ing week at Apel­doorn in the Nether­lands, pow­er­ing to eight gold medals.

That in­cluded vic­to­ries in six of the 10 Olympic events.

With Aus­tralia end­ing last year with­out a swim­mer ranked No. 1 in the world in an Olympic event, the cy­clists ap­pear to be fill­ing the breach 16 months out from the Lon­don Games.

In be­tween the smiles and tears fol­low­ing Aus­tralia’s best medal haul at a world cham­pi­onships – eight gold, two sil­ver, one bronze – was the gnaw­ing re­al­ity that the job is far from done.

‘‘ The re­ally big com­peti­tors in the world have yet to re­ally raise their hands,’’ Cy­cling Aus­tralia na­tional per­for­mance di­rec­tor Kevin Tabotta warned.

Athens Olympic gold medal­list Anna Meares en­joyed a break­through com­petiti o n , w i n n i n g t h e t e a m sprint, sprint and keirin.

Her win over Bri­tish archri­val Vic­to­ria Pendle­ton on the way to her maiden sprint world ti­tle was enor­mous as a psy­cho­log­i­cal fil­lip go­ing to­wards Lon­don 2012.

‘‘ It was a huge re­lief, it was in­cred­i­ble sat­is­fac­tion and it was fi­nally . . . I can do this,’’ she said.

Shane Perkins’ trump­ing of Bri­tish cy­cling great Sir Chris Hoy in the keirin demon­strated how the bal­ance of power was tip­ping in Aus­tralia’s favour.

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