Australian cycling coach not bothered by British challenge

By Roger Vaughan,


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    Australian cycling coach Ian McKenzie is unfazed by a phenomenal training performance from Great Britain ahead of the world track titles.

    The championships will start on Wednesday afternoon and evening at Melbourne’s Hisense Arena with one of the highlights of the five-day program – the men’s 4000m team pursuit.

    These world championships will be the last major event for the team pursuiters ahead of the London Olympics.

    As men’s track endurance coach, McKenzie has overseen the Australian team pursuiters since before the Athens Olympics.

    Late last week, the British trained at the Joe Ciavola velodrome in Melbourne’s northern suburbs and produced a stunning time of two minutes 42.1 seconds for 2750m.

    That split would put them under the world record of 3:53.314 they set in winning the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics and news quickly spread about the effort.

    Australia are the reining world champions and they again threw the gauntlet down to the British in February at the London World Cup round.

    They won the team pursuit in 3:54.615 – the third-fastest time in history.

    While Russia and New Zealand are also strong in this event, Australia and Great Britain are the teams to beat.

    “I haven’t seen the video – I have heard the reports, but it’s training times,” McKenzie said.

    “I don’t take too much notice of it.

    “All I know is that they’ll be really, really tough competitors and I expect a real dog fight between them, us, the Russians and New Zealand.”

    World champions Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis and Michael Hepburn are the nucleus of the Australian team, with Glenn O’Shea also coming into the mix over the past six months and teenager Alex Edmondson making an impressive transition from junior competition.

    Wednesday’s opening evening session will be massive at the world titles, with Australians Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch also defending their world title in the team sprint.

    The men’s team pursuit and the women’s team sprint loom as Australia’s best gold medal chances in track cycling at the London Olympics.

    Meares’ British arch-rival Victoria Pendleton joined with Jessica Varnish at the London World Cup to break the team sprint world record as they beat the Australians in the final.

    The Australians are medal outsiders in the men’s team sprint, where the French, Germans and British will dominate.

    The other medal to be decided on day one will be the men’s scratch race – the only non-Olympic event in the evening session.

    © AAP 2018
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