The opening session of the UCI Juniors World Track Championships – and, yes, that is the official name – opened at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow today. This year’s venue was, of course, built to be the home of the track cycling competition at the 2014 Commonwealth Games but also holds the distinction of being the furthest indoor velodrome on Earth from last year’s venue in Invercargill in New Zealand.

The Junior Worlds always provides competition, but there’s something special about the first Championships of an Olympic cycle as, while the senior riders back off a little and recover from London 2012, the Juniors will be keen to make a play for a place in Rio 2016. Rebecca James, who just missed out on Olympic selection but who dominated the Women’s Sprint competition at the Senior Worlds in Minsk this year, took two Golds and a Silver at the Juniors in 2009; Laura Trott took her first steps on the World stage in 2010.

The first session of this year’s competition saw the qualification for the Men’s Team Pursuit and it was the fourth heat of 19 which saw Great Britain quartet of Germain Burton, Ollie Wood, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Jacob Ragan who took the early lead with a time of 4:13.824.

They stayed at the top of the timing sheets until heat 17 when Russia finally knocked them off with a 4:13.065. Timur Gizzatullin, Sergey Mosin, Andrey Prostokshin and Dmitry Strakhov weren’t fastest for long, though.  New Zealand, the penultimate runners went out fast and Liam Aitcheson, Regan Gough, Joshua Haggerty and Connor Stead were consistently quicker than the Russian squad – finishing with a time of 4:12.056.

 JW18471

That only left the Aussies and Jack Edwards, Joshua Harrison, Callum Scotson and Sam Welford were in a different league – topping the time sheets with a 4:09.364. They’ll face the Kiwis in the Gold Medal ride this evening knowing that their Antipodean neighbours need to find a huge improvement to challenge them. The Bronze Medal ride, however, looks very close indeed.

 JW18529

Oh, and those 2009 Junior Worlds… The Aussie Team Pursuit squad included Luke Durbridge and Michael Hepburn. I wonder what happened to them…

1 Australia 4:09.364
2 New Zealand 4:12.056 +2.692

3 Russia 4:13.065 +3.701
4 Great Britain 4:13.824 +4.460

5 Germany 4:14.768 +5.404
6 Switzerland 4:17.709 +8.345
7 Colombia 4:17.815 +8.451
8 France 4:18.255 +8.891
9 Italy 4:19.201 +9.837
10 Denmark 4:19.689 +10.325
11 Argentina 4:20.447 +11.083
12 Canada 4:21.344 +11.980
13 Ireland 4:23.010 +13.646
14 Belarus 4:23.054 +13.690
15 Japan 4:23.975 +14.611
16 Republic of South Africa 4:25.717 +16.353
17 Malaysia 4:26.064 +16.700
18 United States of America 4:27.057 +17.693
19 India 4:52.738 +43.374

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