Track Worlds: Great Britain confident of Melbourne success
UCI World Track Cycling Championships 2012
- Venue: Hisense Arena, Melbourne
- Date: 4-8 April 2012
Great Britain's track cyclists have arrived in Melbourne confident and relaxed ahead of the World Championships which begin on Wednesday.
Key riders Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton, who looked in top form at February's Track World Cup, are both in action in the team sprints on day one.
Wednesday also sees the GB men's team pursuiters attempt revenge over hosts Australia, who beat them in February.
"Wednesday could set the tone, it's a massive day. I'd like to think the British women can beat Meares and McCulloch in the team sprint, but GB's men will do very well to get in that gold-medal race in the team sprint. In the men's team pursuit, Britain need to be at least in the gold-medal race. GB came out of the 2004 World Championships, which were also held here, with two gold medals ahead of the Athens Games. I think this time, they'll be coming away with more than that."
"It wasn't nice to lose but we know the reasons why," said GB's Geraint Thomas.
"[Defeat at the Track World Cup] was the first team pursuit I've lost in a while - probably since before the Beijing 2008 Olympics. I can't remember the last team pursuit I lost, to be honest.
"I felt like I had a lot more to come and I've definitely been moving in the right direction since. Now that we're starting to go fast, it's a lot better.
"We've been working on having more strength for that final kilometre, which is where we came off it a bit in London. That will glue the ride together."
Thomas is likely to team up with Ed Clancy, Ben Swift and Pete Kennaugh while Australia will again be led by Jack Bobridge, the individual pursuit world record-holder, who has helped turn the Australian team pursuit into a near-invincible force.
"He's phenomenally strong, by far their strongest rider in the team pursuit. He's got that engine that makes him super-powerful over that distance," admitted Thomas.
That clash is one of two world-class battles between Britain and Australia that the crowd in Melbourne's Hisense Arena can anticipate on Wednesday. In the other, Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch could race against Pendleton and Jess Varnish with the women's team sprint world title on the line.
Australians Meares and McCulloch are the defending world champions but Pendleton and Varnish set a world record as they raced to gold at February's World Cup inside London's Olympic Velodrome.
"At this Worlds we'll start to see the new equipment, clothing and helmets that you'll see at London 2012. You're close enough that people will want to start to get used to different pieces of equipment and clothing. But will you see all of the new British equipment here? No. A lot of it is still being manufactured."
"We were really pleased with the time we achieved in London. It was a bit faster than we could have imagined for that part of the season and we hope we'll have a bit more in this velodrome. The track's a little bit faster so fingers crossed," Pendleton told BBC Sport.
Hoy and the British men's team sprint trio could only race to bronze in London two months ago, beating Australia to third but finishing behind world champions Germany and France.
"We gained a lot in terms of momentum, London was a real test to see where we were," said Hoy. "A few riders were - not unsure, but there was nowhere to hide and no excuses on the Olympic track. To perform well was really important.
"Australia feels like a second home to us when we spend so much of the year training out here. The good vibe you get definitely helps. I love this city, it's a great place, it's not like going to a hostile environment where the conditions are difficult."
Meanwhile, Australia's keirin world champion Shane Perkins has confirmed he will race this week, despite suffering a sprained wrist in a collision with a car while training on Melbourne's roads on Sunday.