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Australian sprinters begin their Beijing build up with clean sweep

14 August 2006

Australia's sprint cyclists have scored a clean sweep at the Los Angeles Cycling Classic in the first event of their preparation program for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Olympic and Commonwealth Games champions Ryan Bayley (WA) defeated team mate Victorian Mark French in two straight heats in the men's sprint while Victorian Shane Perkins did the same to Canadian Travis Smith.

French had qualified fastest in 10.62sec but Bayley (10.71sec) proved too strong in the head to head competition racing from the front to post two emphatic wins. Perkins qualified in 10.78.

Bayley again took the front position in the men's keirin but French pipped him on the line by a narrow margin to clinch the victory. 2005/06 World Cup keirin champion Malaysia's Josiah Ng was third.

In the women's events Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Anna Meares (QLD) was the stand out clinching both the sprint and the keirin events.

Meares secured the top seeding in the sprint with her qualifying ride of 12.11sec and made light work of her rivals to move into a final match up with team mate and fellow Queenslander Chloe McPherson (12.62sec).

Meares then showed her class to down McPherson in two straight heats.

In the keirin Meares again dominated to collect her second win ahead of McPherson.

"Anna was the emphatic winner in both events and was clearly the strongest rider out there," said Australian Coach, Martin Barras.

The squad is racing two events in the US before heading to Germany for a series of three Grand Prix sprint meetings.

"This trip serves a double purpose," said Barras.

"Australia's geographic location means we are not able to enjoy the consistent racing they have in Europe and we have found in the past that we are sometimes 'under raced' when we get to major competitions.

"This trip will let the riders gain more international racing experience so we can come into the major events sharper and better prepared."

The races the squad is contesting also offer UCI ranking points which contribute to the qualification for the World Championships to be raced in Palma de Mallorca in Spain in March 2007.

"It's been a good, solid start," said Barras.

"We're doing everything required to make sure all steps are taken so we can arrive fully prepared and competitive for any event at the Beijing Olympics."

The squad will line up in Trexlertown, Pennsylvanis on Friday before heading to Germany for races in Cottbus Hannover and Duddenhofen.

"Then we'll head back to Australia to fine tune preparation for the opening round of the World Cup Series which is being staged in Sydney from November 17th."

Cycling Australia

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