The Roar
The Roar


10 days to Rio: Track cycling's fiercest rivalry

Anna Meares has been named as the flag bearer for Australia at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. (AFP PHOTO /ODD ANDERSEN)
26th July, 2016

Track cycling is exciting. It is pure speed, adrenaline, risk taking and bike handling that, in some events lasts barely a handful of seconds.

At the London 2012 Olympic Games a rivalry between two of the best female track cyclists to grace the velodrome was reaching its peak.


Anna Meares versus Victoria Pendleton became one of the ‘must watch’ events.

Pendleton knew it was her last Olympics and after six years of facing off, Pendleton would have all the pressure on her shoulders as she tried to win cycling gold for Great Britain at home.

The rivalry, which commenced between the pair on the track in 2006 during a keirin race at Bordeaux as Pendleton was knocked off her bike by Meares – something that was apologised for, but certainly not forgotten over the years to come.

Meares would then have what has become a well-documented life-threatening injury, before miraculously recovering to take the silver medal to Pendleton in the sprint at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Pendleton refused to mention anything about Meares’ injury in her victory speech, and the bad blood between the pair hit an all-time high.

At the start of the London Games most experts predicted the final of the individual sprint was going to be Meares versus Pendleton.


Before that though, Pendleton took gold in the keirin. It was a massive shock as Meares was in a photo finish for last – this after she had come into the games claiming she was an odds-on chance for three gold medals.

Meares then teamed with Kaarle McCullogh to give Australia a bronze in the team sprint, while Pendleton blew Britain’s hopes of a medal after an early exchange of riders, seeing them disqualified.

So, it all came to the individual sprint with everything on the line and neither athlete happy with their Olympic campaign up until that point.

After the first heat which saw Pendleton win by a single thousandth of a second, Meares would ride a much better second heat, timing her run to perfection and cruising home for the gold medal.

It would be the end of the rivalry between the pair, but it has left us with a track cycling legacy in both Australia and Great Britain.

You’d be brave betting against Meares to again rise again in Rio for another gold medal after the high of being named Australia’s flag bearer.

Be sure to follow The Roar as we look back on some of the most memorable moments in Olympic history – be they weird and wacky or brilliant and significant – and count down the days until the Rio Olympics opening ceremony.

The Roar’s countdown to the Rio Olympics

50 days to go: Australia’s first Olympian, Edwin Flack
49 days to go: Brazil capitulate at the 2012 Olympics
48 days to go: Blood in the water during the 1956 Melbourne Olympics
47 days to go: Daniel Carroll, the man who won rugby gold with Australia and America
46 days to go: Margaret Abbott – the golfer who didn’t know she had won gold
45 days to go: Where did all the amateurs go?
44 days to go: Australia’s oarsome foursome
43 days to go: When Korea stood as one
42 Days to go: Oscar Swahn, the oldest Olympian
41 days to go: Edith Bosch – the Olympian not known for her medals
40 days to go: Jane Saville’s heartbreaking Sydney Olympics
39 days to go: Herb Elliot dominates in Rome 1960
38 days to go: Teofilo Stevenson, the boxer who might have beaten Ali
37 days to go: Betty Cuthbert steals the show in Melbourne
36 days to go: Jesse Owens’ heroic performance in Berlin
35 days to go: Eric the Eel steals Sydney’s heart
34 days to go: What happened to Cassius Clay’s gold medal?
33 days to go: Australia’s equestrian brilliance at Barcelona
32 days to go: The Olympic sports which are no longer with us
31 days to go: Debbie Flintoff-King wins on the line
30 days to go: The dominance of basketball’s Dream Team
29 days to go: Nadia Comenaci scores gymnastics’ first-ever perfect score
28 days to go: The man who stopped for a duck
27 days to go: The upset of the Sydney Olympics
26 days to go: Murray Rose’s scintilating Melbourne performance
25 days to go: Greg Louganis’ heroic comeback win
24 days to go: Fencing turns to duelling in Paris
23 days to go: Dawn Fraser’s flag-stealing shenanigans
22 days to go: The most prolific Olympic competitor
21 days to go: Duncan Armstrong’s underdog win in Seoul
20 days to go: Johnny Weissmuller: A brilliant swimmer and Hollywood actor
19 days to go: Majorie Jackson – the Lithgow Flash
18 days to go: Larisa Latynina, the most successful female Olympian
17 days to go: Dimitrios Loundras, the child who won an Olympic medal
16 days to go: Roy Jones Jr is robbed of an Olympic gold
15 days to go: Shane Gould’s superstar performance in Munich
14 days to go: The Kookaburras finally fly to the top of the world
13 days to go: Matthew Mitcham’s historic dive
12 days to go: Even Olympians are prone to the odd fail
11 days to go: Abebe Bikila wins the Olympic marathon running in bare feet
10 days to go: Track cycling’s greatest rivalry
9 days to go: Kieran Perkins’ gold medal from lane eight
8 days to go: Sally Pearson’s awesome run in London
7 days to go: Mark Spitz’ perfect seven gold medals in ’72
6 days to go: Usain Bolt torches the field in Beijing
5 days to go: Michael Klim and Ian Thorpe help smash America’s 4x100m world record like a guitar
4 days to go: Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ defiant black power salute
3 days to go: Michael Phelps – the best to ever grace the Olympics
2 days to go: Cathy Freeman delivers with the weight of a country on her back
1 day to go: Ian Thorpe – Australia’s finest Olympian