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Aussies stun Great Britain in pursuit for gold

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Australia have stunned fierce rivals Great Britain to snatch gold in the men’s team pursuit at the track cycling world championships in London and lay down a challenge ahead of the Rio Olympics.

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The Australian quartet of Sam Welsford, Michael Hepburn, Miles Scotson and Callum Scotson silenced the parochial crowd at the Lee Valley Velodrome – the site of the 2012 Olympics – with a stunning win in the 4000m race.

Australia clocked a scintillating time of 3 minutes 52.727 seconds, cracking England on the final lap to win by 1.129 seconds after a desperate fightback from the home team inspired by six-time world champion Bradley Wiggins.

The result earned Australia a second gold of the meet following Rebecca Wiasak’s defence of her individual pursuit title, and a successful Thursday night (Friday morning AEDT) along with Anna Meares’ silver in the keirin.

It returns Australia to the top of an event it has traditionally dominated, having now won five of the past seven men’s team pursuit world titles, and stokes the rivalry between the two nations five months out from the Rio Games.

The men’s team pursuit victory over Great Britain came after Australia dismantled defending world champions New Zealand in the semi-finals, smashing their smashed trans-Tasman rivals in the semi-final by more than six seconds by posting a sizzling time of 3 minutes 54.029 second.

Meanwhile, sprint champion Meares was unable to add a fourth keirin title to her extraordinary resume but managed to produce a stunning ride to to grab second after appearing boxed in during the final lap before falling 0.078 seconds behind Germany’s winner Kristina Vogel.

Earlier, Australia’s women’s pursuit team avoided an embarrassing early exit in their world title defence after flirting with danger in their qualifying round.

The strongly favoured quartet of Annette Edmondson, Georgia Baker, Ashlee Ankudinoff and Amy Cure snuck into the semi-finals after qualifying fourth fastest.

Australia, who twice broke the world record en route to gold at the 2015 world championships in Paris, finished with a time of 4 minutes 20.830 seconds – a mere 0.224 seconds quicker than Great Britain, who missed out on a shot at the medals.

Australia will on Friday (Saturday morning AEDT) face a semi-final against the top-ranked Team USA who set the pace mark with a time of 4 minutes 16.180 seconds – a full four-and-a-half seconds faster than the defending champions.

The winner of that semi-final will then get a shot at either Canada or New Zealand in the gold medal race.

AAP

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