The Australians rounded off a superb performance at the 2011 Track World Championships, taking more gold medals on the final day of competition on Sunday. What Great Britain did in Majorca in the last Olympic cycle, the Australians did in Apeldoorn.
The Cyclones won eight gold medals in total, six of which were in Olympic events. Anna Meares was the star of the show, winning gold in all three Olympic sprint events and setting herself up as the standout favourite, 17 months out from London 2012.
Her win in the keirin on day five saw her become the second woman to win three gold medals in one championships after Victoria Pendleton did the same in 2007.
Cameron Meyer and Leigh Howard took Australia’s second gold of the day in the men’s madison.
The Brits were again left licking their wounds, but, with their home Games fast approaching, they’re still talking a good fight. Australia have been in the ascendency since Copenhagen last year, and with a clutch of young riders hungry for Olympic success, their National Performance Director Kevin Tabotta isn’t worried about peaking too soon.
For GB it’s a different story. With the team’s talismanic figures Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton looking to build-up to London, their motivation is more likely to kick in nearer the time. With world titles aplenty between them, and a reduced motivation to win many more, their training programmes are designed to bring them into form in the months before London.
Whether or not that will be enough to catch and overtake the Australians remains to be seen.
Final day events
The women’s keirin was by no means a walkover for Meares, but she was at least always in control. She won her first and second round heats before winning the final, meaning that over the course of five days of competition, Pendleton was the only rider to get the better of her in one of their semi-final sprint matches.
The men’s kilo provided a standout performance from Germany’s Stefan Nimke and a roof-raising four laps from Teun Mulder. Apart from the last four riders it was, sadly, a lacklustre field. Nimke, fourth from last to go set the bar too high for anyone else with a 1-00 ride – an exceptional achievement on a track that failed to produce any fast rides throughout the week.
Defending champion Mulder was last to go, but despite the crowd being in good voice, he couldn’t challenge the German’s time and ended up with silver.
The men’s madison, another thoroughly entertaining event stripped of much of it’s draw when it lost it’s Olympic status, took a while to get going, and eventually only two teams gained a lap on the field. The Czech’s were the first to do it, but with only one point to their name their lead wasn’t assured.
The only surprise of the Australian’s gaining lap was that everyone knew it was coming. As defending champions they were the standout favourites and everyone was watching them: a sign of the strength of Cameron Meyer and Leigh Howard.
Laura Trott ended the women’s omnium on a high, posting the fastest time in the 500m time trial. The young Brit posted a PB, one of few registered on this track, to win the event and lift herself to 11th overall. Trott, the junior world omnium champion, admitted she was disappointed ending the first day down in 18th place, but was happier with her finishing place.
Straight after the event she nailed her colours to the team pursuit wall. Few seem to want to commit to the omnium as it’s such a lottery, and Trott is no different. “I don’t want to aim for a double and come away with nothing,” she said afterwards.
“I won the junior omnium off the back of individual pursuit training. I see myself as a pursuiter and that’s what I’ll focus on.”
Trott had been a last minute replacement for Lizzie Armitstead after she had fallen ill.
Day five medalists
Men’s kilometre TT
Gold – Stefan Nimke (Ger)
Silver – Teun Mulder (Ned)
Bronze – François Pervis (Fra)
Gold – Anna Meares (Aus)
Silver – Olga Panarina (Blr)
Bronze – Clara Sanchez (Fra)
Gold – Australia (C Meyer, L Howard)
Silver – Czech Republic (M Blaha, J Hochmann)
Bronze – Netherlands (T Bos, P Schep)
Gold – Tara Whitten (Can)
Silver – Sarah Hammer (USA)
Bronze – Kirsten Wild (Ned)