Australia dominate men’s team sprint in track cycling
Roger Vaughan |
Australia have ridden the fastest time in this country for the men’s team sprint to dominate the event on night one of the Track Nations Cup.
In an encouraging sign for the Australian track cyclists ahead of the Paris Olympics, the trio of Leigh Hoffman, Matthew Richardson and Matthew Glaetzer comfortably beat Japan in the final at Adelaide’s Super-Drome.
Australia also finished second in the men’s team pursuit to their fierce British rivals and won bronze in the women’s team pursuit at the start of the three-day event.
Blake Agnoletto took silver in the elimination, a non-Olympic race.
The men’s team sprint has emerged as a big medal hope for Australia at the Paris Games, after they narrowly lost the final to the Netherlands at last year’s world championship and won the 2022 world title.
While the powerful Dutch men’s sprint squad is not competing at the Adelaide round, Australia posted the fastest time in all three rounds of competition on Friday in hot, dry conditions.
They won the final in 42.154 seconds, their quickest time of the day, beating Japan’s 42.750.
After Tom Cornish partnered Richardson and Hoffman in qualifying earlier on Friday, three-time Olympian Glaetzer came in for the evening’s first round and the final.
The Hoffman/Richardson/Glaetzer combination won Commonwealth Games gold two year ago, as well as silver at the worlds last year.
Cornish, Richardson and Hoffman set the previous-best time in Australia of 42.343 in March last year.
“It feels good – I don’t think we could have asked for more today,” Richardson said.
“We executed basically to the plan we set. The win is just the cherry on top.”
Australia posted the fastest time in the opening two rounds of the men’s team pursuit.
But fielding what was effectively their second-string lineup, the British were too strong in the gold medal ride.
They led throughout and won in three minutes 48.469 seconds as the Australian combination of Sam Welsford, Kelland O’Brien, Conor Leahy and James Moriarty struggled late and clocked 3:49.876.
After riding in the qualifying round of the pursuit, Agnoletto won silver in the elimination behind Canadian Dylan Bibic.
The Australian women’s team pursuiters then won bronze, beating Canada with a last-gasp surge in their medal ride.
Two-time Olympian Georgia Baker brought home her Australian teammates Alex Manly, Sophie Edwards and Chloe Moran, while New Zealand beat world champions Great Britain, featuring star rider Katie Archibald, for the gold medal.
The ride of the night came from New Zealander Ally Wollaston when she backed up from the team pursuit to win her second gold medal of the night in the elimination.
Wollaston, who won the first stage of the Tour Down Under earlier this month, stormed home to beat American star Jennifer Valente in the final sprint of the elimination despite having heavy legs from the team pursuit final only a few minutes earlier.
There was a near-disaster in the women’s team sprint final when one of the Chinese riders lost her seat.
Immediately after the final started, first rider Yufang Gao did well to stay upright when her seat flew off and her two teammates also avoided crashing.
Great Britain easily won the final after China’s equipment malfunction, while world champions Germany were disqualified in the morning’s qualifying round and Australia did not progress to the first round.AAP