Fallen giant Australia hopes to continue its track cycling revival when it saddles up against equally ambitious British, French and German rivals at the five-day world championships in Denmark.
Australia’s sorry haul of only one medal at the 2008 Olympic Games sparked calls for major reforms and the team bounced back convincingly last year in Poland where it topped the championships’ medals table.
A year on, Anna Meares, who won Olympic silver in the women’s sprint, and pursuit sensation Jack Bobridge spearhead a team which is looking to solidify foundations that will allow them to build confidently towards the London Games in 2012.
Although the women’s 500 metres time trial is no longer on the Olympic program, Meares will race the women’s opening event Wednesday (local time) looking to win back the title she lost last year to Lithuanian Simona Krupeckaite.
“Anna will be very competitive and has done some really good times in training in recent days and weeks,” said sprint coach Gary West.
The other events Wednesday are the women’s individual pursuit, and the men’s points race and team sprint.
The men’s team sprint will give the likes of Scott Sunderland, Danny Ellis and Jason Niblett a chance to shake off the competition cobwebs, and have a glimpse of key rivals, ahead of some enticing match-ups later in the week.
Britain’s renowned sprint team, the Olympic champions, will likely be composed of Jason Kenny, Ross Edgar and Sir Chris Hoy although the Australian trio will also face another obstacle in reigning world champions France.
“The men’s team sprint is a little more challenging but I was very encouraged with Danny Ellis and his performance out of the gate at training today,” added West.
“Jason Niblett will ride in second wheel and Scott Sunderland in third and both those guys are in very good form at the moment.”
Although Australia’s young team will be hard pushed to beat the likes of Britain and France, and could be pushed, like last year, out of the medals by Germany, the opening day should not be all doom and gloom.
In the men’s points race Cameron Meyer will line up hoping to defend his crown from last year.
Australia topped the medals table at last year’s championships in Pruszkow, Poland with 10 in total, including four of the competition’s 19 gold. France was second and Britain third.
This year 20 finals will be held although half of the events are now longer part of the Olympic program, which has been reformed recently to assure gender parity at the London Games where a total of 10 finals will be raced.