Australian cycling favourites lose world titles

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    Australia’s two biggest hopes for cycling gold at the London Olympics had a rude awakening four months from the Games when the men’s team pursuit and women’s team sprint both lost their world titles.

    Both had to settle for silver and it took world records to beat them.

    Britain took the points in their fierce ongoing contest with Australia in the pursuit when they broke their own world record at the world track cycling championships in Melbourne on Wednesday night.

    In doing so, they beat Australia for the first time since the Beijing Olympics in 2008 to stake a massive claim in their bid to retain their Olympic crown.

    Two rides under the world record that stood at the start of the day weren’t enough for Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch to win their fourth successive team sprint world title.

    Meares and McCulloch saw off their British arch rivals Victoria Pendleton and Jessica Varnish, beating them in the qualifying rounds with the fastest time they’ve ridden.

    But the emerging German duo of Kristina Vogel and Miriam Welte went even faster, breaking the world record in qualifying and again as they beat the Australians in the final by .048 of a second with a time of 32.549 seconds.

    Meares and McCulloch are counting the days for redemption.

    “Two world record rides for me and Anna, we couldn’t ask for anything better,” McCulloch said.

    “I take a lot of confidence out of this ride tonight. There’s 115 days to go to the Olympics and I can guarantee you we’ll both be faster and we want to stand on that top step on the podium.

    “We will be better in London, we aimed to be about 90 percent here and we’ll be 100 percent in London and we’ll be bringing our A game then.”

    © AAP 2018

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