Australia’s quest to regain the Olympic team pursuit crown was given momentum after they qualified fastest in a World Cup Olympic test event in London on Thursday to secure a final against Britain.
Raced at the new state-of-the-art Olympic velodrome, this weekend’s events are being seen as a crucial step toward eventual success in London this summer.
Britain, the Olympic champions and world record holders in 3 minutes, 53.314 seconds, had brought the roof down at the 6,000-seat venue by virtually securing their place in the final in 3:58.446.
However, Australia, inspir-ed by world-record holder Jack Bobridge, set out their stall by clocking 3:57.885 in the 16-lap event. That silenced all but a handful of enthusiastic Aussie fans trackside and gave Bobridge faith in teammates Rohan Dennis, Alexander Edmondson and Michael Hepburn.
“We can’t complain with that ride, it was smooth, fast and in control the whole way,” said Bobridge, a pivotal part of the team that has won the past two world championship titles. “We wanted to race [against] the Brits [in the final]. Stirring each other up is always fun, but seriously, it’s always good to race the Brits on their home track and it was good to get a hit-out on the track.”
Welshman Geraint Thomas admitted he had hoped for a slightly faster performance.
“I think we did a decent ride there, we’re a bit disappointed with the time. We’re always striving for more,” Thomas said.
The men’s final will be held tomorrow, while New Zealand will meet Belgium in the match for the bronze medal.
Canada, meanwhile, caused a minor surprise in qualifying fastest from the women’s 3km event to book a gold medal ride-off with reigning world champions Britain.
Led by two-time omnium world champion Tara Whitten, Canada came close to threatening the US’ world record of 3:19.569 on their way to a new national record of 3:20.785.