Aust track cyclists set up final with Brits

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    Australia’s cyclists enjoyed their first competitive ride on the London Olympic track with the men’s pursuit team topping qualifying for Sunday’s final (Monday AM AEDT) at the test event.

    The foursome of Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, Alex Edmondson and Michael Hepburn set down a time of 3 minutes and 57.885 seconds in the World Cup round in east London.

    The performance from the world champions topped Britain’s mark of 3:58.446 and pitted the two nations against each other in this weekend’s gold medal race.

    Meanwhile, Australia’s emerging women’s pursuit team showed some encouraging signs by shaving one thousandth of a second off the national record in qualifying for Friday’s (Saturday AM AEDT) bronze medal race against the Netherlands.

    Melissa Hoskins, Annette Edmondson and Josephine Tomic brushed aside the drama of a malfunctioning start gate to record a time of 3:21.426 behind pace-setters Canada (3:20.785) and Britain (3:21.370).

    In a teaser before the Olympics, the noise from the home crowd was deafening as the British men’s team completed its 16 laps of the track.

    The Australians did not have quite the same backing although a handful of supporters cheered heartily as the time of the men’s team came up on the big screen.

    Bobridge was satisfied with the opening effort.

    “It will make it interesting come Sunday with the double ride so close,” he said.

    “We can’t complain with that ride.

    “It was smooth, fast and in control the whole time.”

    Australia finished fourth in the women’s team pursuit at last year’s world titles in Apeldoorn.

    But Tomic believed the new-look unit was capable of a podium finish at the Olympics after Hoskins’ back wheel was initially jammed in the gate.

    “I don’t think it affected us,” Tomic said.

    “It is really promising heading into worlds (in Melbourne in April).

    “We have been out of the medals in the last year or so.

    “There has been a lot going on behind the scenes and I think tonight showed we have plenty to come.”

    © AAP 2014
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