trackcycling’s coverage of the 2012 UCI Track Cycling World Championships starts today with four medals being decided – the Men’s and Women’s Team Sprint, the Men’s Team Pursuit and the Men’s 15km Scratch Race. Great Britain and Australia will be favourites for the Team Pursuit and Women’s Team Sprint – with the home team probably just having the edge in both events – but the Team Sprint could be a much closer run thing with Germany, France and Great Britain all capable of taking Gold.
trackcycling’s coverage of the 2012 UCI Track Cycling World Championships is supported by Brooks Cycles
Men’s Team Pursuit
One of the biggest battles of the week comes right at the start of the programme with GB and Australia squaring up in the finals of the Men’s Team Pursuit.
The local press is hyping the event as though it was an Ashes series final match – contrasting the youth of the Australian squad – allegedly dubbed the ‘Boy Band’ by the British press – with the ‘experience’ of the GB squad.
The fashon conscious Aussie Boy Band in fetching Grey in London
It’s a theme that’s been repeated a number of times in and around the Australian camp. The theory has it that the Brits are making the same mistake that the Australians made in Beijing – sticking to the squad that have done them proud over the last few years rather than looking to the next generation. This, it has to be said, is the same Australian team that were very vocal about the fact that the GB team – which dominated the 2007 Worlds in Palma and the 2008 Worlds in Manchester – had peaked too soon pre-Beijing…
What is true is that the Brits haven’t won a World Title since Manchester – and two of the riders from that squad ride on Melbourne. On the other hand, Alex Edmondson is the only change from the Australian 2010 and 2011 World Champion squad.
The GB team drafted in Andy Tennant as a last minute squad addition based on his performances in training and he slots in to the qualifying line up – at least – in place of Steven Burke. And, in training, they’ve been running at better than World Record pace – a fact that hasn’t gone un-noticed in the Australian camp.
Great Britain’s ‘geriatric’ squad at the World Cup at the London Olympic Velodrome
The Boy Band – Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, Glenn O’Shea and Michael Hepburn – have also looked good in training – also running inside their times from London in February. It’s going to be a fascinating duel.
Russia – who had been looking incredibly strong – disappointed in London and were dealt another blow when Ivan Kovalev was the victim of a hit and run incident at the team’s pre-Worlds training camp in Sydney. 19 year old Artur Ershov comes in to replace Kovalev, who broke his shoulder in the incident. Ershov’s no slouch – he’s the current European Under 23 Individual Pursuit Champion – and we think Heiko Salzwedel’s squad will still have too much for the other big guns New Zealand.
SILVER Great Britain
Men’s Team Sprint
Great Britain takes a calculated gamble in the Team Sprint, throwing in talented youngster Philip Hindes of Team V-Sprint in the latest attempt to find a replacement for Jamie Staff at Man 1. Hindes is an exciting prospect and we think he’s got the potential to make the role his own. The question is whether he will be able to do in time time for this summer’s trip to The Circus.
The Germans flat out in Apeldoorn in 2011
We don’t think he’s quite ready and the strength in depth of the Germans – who have half a dozen riders who can slot into to the Team Sprint and bag a medal – will come out on top. The Qualifying squad of Rene Enders, Max Levy and Stefan Nimke is about as good as it gets. The only thing that might upset the apple cart is the hugely experienced French trio of Gregory Baugé, Michael D’Almeida and Kévin Sireau still smarting over the loss of their 2011 title to the Germans following Baugé’s post-dated suspension for whereabouts violations.
It’s always explosive and, for the last few years, it’s been very, very close. We think it will be this year, but Germany will take it.
BRONZE Great Britain
Women’s Team Sprint
The Women’s Team Sprint will be close, too – and is likely to be another ‘Ashes’ battle between Pendleton and Varnish and Meares and McCulloch. The only thing that’s beaten the Boy Band story for coverage hear has been the largely manufactured enmity between Pendleton and Meares and, while we think it’s more likely to help Vicky than Anna – when will the press and coaches learn that ‘sledging’ almost always backfires – we think the Aussies may still have the edge.
Meares and McCulloch in London
You can’t rule out the Chinese, either, who have been getting stronger and stronger, but we think the Final will be the one the home crowwd wants. We think the result will be, too.
SILVER Great Britain
Men’s 15K Scratch
The bunch races at the Worlds can be something of a lottery, but we think there are half a dozen riders worth looking out for. Juan Estaban Arango of Colombia would probably be the closest there was to a favourite, having won two of this Winter’s World Cup Series, but he isn’t competing in Melbourne. Bryan Coquard of France took the overall series but he’s concentrating on the Omnium competition, so misses out – with Roger Kluge of Germany and Glenn O’Shea of Australia also taking wins in individual rounds. We’re going to go with form – throwing Elia Viviani of Italy in to the mix because of his road and Omnium bunch race performances – but Ben Swift of Great Britain could spring a surprise.
Ben Swift represents Great Britain in the Men’s Scratch, but we think the Medals will go elsewhere
GOLD Glenn O’Shea (AUS)
SILVER Roger Kluge (GER)
BRONZE Elia Viviani (ITA)