Australian cycling has capped the 2013/14 UCI Track World Cup season with one bronze, one silver and three gold medals in the final round held in Guadalajara (Mexico) at the weekend.
Scott Sunderland (WA), Tirian McManus (NSW), Joshua Harrison (SA) and Callum Scotson (SA) took gold in the men’s team pursuit, with Sunderland (kilometre time trial) and McManus (omnium) also claiming individual gold.
Australia also found the podium twice during the three-day event via the women’s team pursuit and Bella King (WA) in the women’s omnium.
An amazing performance from Scott Sunderland (WA) has seen him become the first Australian to break the one-minute barrier in the men’s kilometre time trial.
The 2012 London Olympic sprinter-turned-endurance-rider eclipsed Shane Kelly’s 19-year-old Australian record of 1min 0.613secs set in Colombia in 1995, with a scorching time of 59.675secs for the four lap event.
‘Its always been a mission of mine to go under that magic number, to break the minute, so to actually do that last night was pretty amazing,’ said Sunderland, 25.
The 2012 team sprint world champion has shed eleven kilograms since switching disciplines from sprint to endurance in mid-2013.
‘I am lucky that in my transfer (from sprinting) I have been able to keep some of my speed and explosiveness that is a key in the kilo, but also will be helpful in the future in the team pursuit and in the bunch racing,’ he said. ‘I only made the switch six months ago, so I didn’t think I would be fronting up at a World Cup, let alone winning two gold medals.
‘So it is really exciting and gives me a good sight that things are going in the right direction.’
The young Australian quartet of Tirian McManus (NSW), 19, Joshua Harrison (SA), 18, plus brothers Miles, 20, and Callum Scotson (SA), 17, (4:02.944) qualified second fastest behind Switzerland (4:02.089) in the men’s 4,000m team pursuit.
In the final, Scott Sunderland (WA), 25, came in for Miles Scotson, who was juggling a busy World Cup schedule that also included the individual pursuit, points race and Madison.
The Australians trailed the Swiss team at each of the first three-kilometre time checks, but the Australians fought back over the final four laps to finish in 4mins 01.494secs, five seconds ahead of a fading Swiss team (4:06.312).
‘We had a really strong team; everyone rode really well. Going in second fastest qualifier, everyone stepped it up in the final,’ said Sunderland. ‘We had a plan to ride really smoothly, and the way we worked it we were really controlled and it ended up being easier than we thought.
‘It was great that it resulted in our finishing it off so strongly; we went faster than qualifying which is really a great team effort,’ he said.
Australia finished on top of the UCI World Cup rankings in the men’s team pursuit event, finishing ahead of Denmark and Great Britain after winning one silver and two gold medals over the three rounds.
In the women’s 4,000m team pursuit, Bella King (WA), Georgia Baker (TAS), Rebecca Wiasak (ACT) and Elissa Wundersitz (WA) won the bronze after posting 4mins 30.668secs in the final against Poland (4:35.470).
It was the third bronze medal for the Australian women in the three World Cup events, which was enough to secure second overall on the rankings behind Canada and ahead of the United States.
Tirian McManus (NSW) added to his opening-day team-pursuit gold medal with a thrilling final round victory in men’s omnium.
‘I am over the moon. To win gold with the boys in the team pursuit and to finish it off with an individual win is definitely the biggest win in my career so far,’ said McManus, who opened the event with seventh in the flying lap (13.282secs) and claimed a triumphant win in the points race round after taking three laps on the field.
McManus was tied on 23 points with Jasper De Buyst (BEL) and Thomas Boudat (FRA) heading into the sixth and final event, the kilometre time trial.
In an exciting finish, nineteen-year-old McManus held his nerves to place third (1:03.020), just two-tenths of a second ahead of De Buyst, to clinch the gold by the slimmest of margins.
McManus (26pts) finished no lower than eighth in the six rounds – elimination race (5th), individual pursuit (2nd), scratch race (8th) and time trial (3rd) – to win ahead of De Buyst (27pts) and Boudat (30pts).
‘We were tied at the end of day one and it was fitting to be tied heading into the final event,’ said McManus. ‘It was a great way to end it, tough racing throughout the whole omnium, nerve wracking at the finish, but great to come away with the win.’
It was the reverse for Australia in the women’s event with Isabella King (WA) claiming silver after finishing just one point behind Poland’s Katarzyna Pawlowska in the women’s omnium.
King began the event with the fastest flying-lap time (14.064secs), before recording solid results in the next five events – points race (5th), elimination (7th), individual pursuit (3rd) and scratch race (5th).
Trailing by four points heading into the final time trial event, King finished fourth to make ground on her Polish rival who finished seventh, but it wasn’t quite enough to clinch the top step of the podium.
‘I didn’t come here expecting anything. I haven’t really trained for the omnium; all I have trained for is the teams pursuit, so any time you get on the podium you have to be really happy,’ said King, who, despite battling a cough for much of the past week, walked away from Mexico with two medals.
‘It was really great riding with the team pursuit girls. In particular I really enjoyed taking a leadership role with Bec (Wiasak) to keep Elissa and Georgia confident and in the right frame of mind.
‘And in turn, that role had a beneficial effect on me as it is almost like you “fake it until you make it”, so it made me more confident too,’ said King, who, with the rest of the team, looks forward to a week of recovery before heading to Adelaide for the 2014 Subaru Track National Championships.
‘Fingers crossed for Nationals next week but, just like here, I won’t be putting too-high expectations on myself [because I am] coming off sickness and will be back down from altitude.’