Aussie cyclists itching to take on Brits

By , 16 Feb 2012

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    Jack Bobridge has heard the whispers about the all-conquering Australian men’s pursuit team. That it is all well and good winning track cycling world titles in Copenhagen and Apeldoorn but it is the Olympics that count.

    And, when the Brits get their house in order before this year’s London Games, the young Australian quartet could be in for a shock.

    That is why Bobridge is so excited about the chance to take on a full-strength British team at this week’s World Cup and Olympic test event in east London.

    “We believe we have not raced the full strength British team in the team pursuit but we know we are ready for that,” he said.

    “It is going to be the first time where everyone puts their A-team on the track.

    “It will be great for both sides to see where each other are and we can go from there.”

    Russia and New Zealand are considered outside threats in the event but the focus has been on the Australian and British quartets.

    Having ruled at the Beijing Olympics, the British track cycling team’s recent boot camp received considerable coverage in the English press.

    Ed Clancy and Geraint Thomas, half of Britain’s gold medal-winning and world record-setting team in Beijing, will lead the home nation this week at the eye-catching venue nicknamed the “Pringle”.

    The Australian team handed the Olympic velodrome the thumbs up on Tuesday following their first chance to ride on the Siberian pine.

    The track was designed with consultation from British great Chris Hoy and other British cyclists.

    “It is a fantastic venue,” Bobridge said.

    “Every track has its unique parts about it but, so far, so good. All the boys like it.”

    Qualifying for the men’s team pursuit is on the opening night on Thursday night (Friday AM AEDT) with the final on Sunday night (Monday AM AEDT).

    The Australians take in a squad loaded with talent after capturing six of the 10 Olympic events at the 2011 world titles in Apeldoorn.

    Anna Meares, who collected three world titles 11 months ago in the Netherlands, faces renewed pressure in the sprint from Britain’s track queen Victoria Pendleton and Chinese speedster Guo Shuang.

    Meanwhile, keirin world champion Shane Perkins has a fight on his hands against the British pair of Hoy and Jason Kenny and Dutchman Teun Mulder.

    Australia’s track sprint coach Gary West dismissed concerns the national team had peaked too early.

    “You can be the hunter or the hunted,” he said.

    “But we have staked our claim in Apeldoorn.

    “We are better than what we were then.

    “We are increasing the tempo heading towards the Games.”

    © AAP 2014
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