Meares leads Australian cycling charge

By , 8 Apr 2012

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    Anna Meares fought back from her bitter disappointment in the sprint to lead an Australian gold rush at the world track cycling championships.

    Meares dominated the keirin for her first gold medal at these titles.

    Cameron Meyer showed again why he is so highly rated in the sport as he made a stunning last-gasp surge to reclaim the points race crown by just one point.

    Michael Hepburn also upset Jack Bobridge to win the all-Australian 4000m individual pursuit gold medal ride.

    The men’s points race and individual pursuit are no longer Olympic events.

    Australia now lead the medal tally with five gold, six silver and one bronze.

    Great Britain are next with five gold, two silver and one bronze.

    In Olympic events, the British are right on target for their home Games with four gold.

    Meares’ keirin title took Australia’s Games event tally to three golds, while France and Germany have one apiece.

    Sunday’s final session will feature four gold medals, but the men’s keirin will be the only event on the London Olympics program.

    Adding to a great night for the host nation, Annette Edmondson backed up from her silver medal in the omnium at the London World Cup two months ago with another second place in the new Olympic event.

    She finished just three points behind Great Britain’s Laura Trott and is a near-certainty to ride in the omnium at the Games.

    Meares showed impressive mental toughness to rally from losing to British arch-rival Victoria Pendleton in Friday’s epic sprint semi-final.

    Pendleton went on to win the sprint gold and Meares took bronze.

    Meares confessed she would rather have won the sprint, but was proud of herself for rallying so strongly.

    “It doesn’t make up for last night, it makes today special,” she said.

    Pendleton was sore after crashing in a heat against Meares and finished last in the keirin consolation final.

    Meyer, a two-time points world champion, looked out of the medal hunt.

    But he and New Zealander Aaron Gate attacked late and gained a lap, giving them 20 points.

    Meyer eventually beat British rider Ben Swift by just one point and he was ecstatic when the final tally went up on the scoreboard.

    The Australian was aided because the main group had split in two, making it easier to gain the lap.

    “I know how to give myself a heart attack,” he said.

    “It’s one of the pinnacles of my career so far.”

    Meyer and Leigh Howard will aim for their third-straight madison title on Sunday.

    Hepburn qualified with the third-fastest individual pursuit title in history before upsetting Bobridge, the world record holder, in the final.

    New Zealander Westley Gough beat Australian Rohan Dennis for the bronze medal.

    In the men’s sprint, Australian Shane Perkins lost the bronze medal ride to British star Chris Hoy.

    Frenchman Gregory Bauge won the gold medal when Great Britain’s Jason Kenny was a controversial relegation from their second heat because of a rule violation.

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