Aussie men’s pursuit team win Olympic test

By , 20 Feb 2012

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    Australia’s men’s pursuit cycling team passed one of their biggest pre-Olympic tests by blowing away Britain in the final of the test event for the London Games.

    The foursome of Jack Bobridge, Michael Hepburn, Rohan Dennis and Alex Edmondson posted the second fastest time in the event’s history of 3 minutes and 54.615 seconds.

    Britain (3:56.330) led in the opening kilometre of 4km race before the world champions reeled them in and eventually completed a comfortable victory.

    Geraint Thomas, a member of Britain’s Beijing Olympic champion team, talked about “smashing” the Australians in the lead-up to the race.

    The British press described the Australians as a “boy band” with the oldest member of the team, Bobridge, only 22.

    But there was nothing immature about their performance in front of a parochial crowd with all four riders completing the race, including 18-year-old newcomer Edmondson.

    Only Britain’s team at the 2008 Olympics has produced a faster time but the world record of 3:53.314 looks to be on borrowed time.

    In an encouraging sign, Edmondson’s older sister Annette heralded her arrival as an Olympic medal threat in the omnium.

    In her first international outing in the multi-discipline event, the 20-year-old missed out on taking out the World Cup round on countback from American Sarah Hammer.

    The result completed quite a competition for the South Australian siblings as they gear up for the Olympics, starting July 27.

    Hepburn said the composed performance by the men’s pursuit team demonstrated the team’s belief.

    He singled out Alex Edmondson’s performance as the teenager was doubled over a fence railing behind him trying to recover.

    “It is a really positive sign when you can finish with four guys at 3:54,” he said.

    Bobridge expected the world mark to be smashed, possibly in April’s world titles in Melbourne in the lead-up to the Olympics.

    “I think come the Games we are going to see around the 3:51, 3:50 mark,” he said.

    “We have proved it over the past few years, we are getting quicker every time we get on the boards.”

    It was not such a great day for Australia’s sprinters as Scotland’s Chris Hoy backed up his keirin win by powering to victory in the sprint.

    A busy program caught up with reigning women’s keirin world champion Anna Meares as she finished last in the final behind winner Simona Krupeckaite of Lithuania.

    Australia’s Shane Perkins, who won the keirin world title last year, said he was not panicking despite his slow start to the year.

    He was disqualified on Sunday for bumping the back wheel of British rider Matthew Crampton in their round of 16 race in the sprint.

    Britain topped the medal tally with five gold, one silver and two bronze medals with Australia second with two gold, three silver and two bronze.

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