Meares hails new British cycling foe4 November 2013
CYCLING - TRACK: Anna Meares has hailed the emergence of a new major British rival to her Olympic track cycling sprint crown after bowing to Welshwoman Becky James.
Racing at her first big international meet since the 2012 London Olympics, Meares was beaten 2-0 by James in the ride-off for the bronze medal at the World Cup round in Manchester on Saturday night.
It was at the London Games that the Australian great famously dampened perennial rival Victoria Pendleton's retirement party by pipping her for the gold on her home soil.
In Meares' absence, James won the world title this year and Meares accepted she would pose a formidable obstacle to retaining her Olympic title at the 2016 Rio Games.
"I thought I'd get a break from the British after Vicky retired," said a good humoured Meares. "They just seem to be churning out world champions.
"This competition for me was always going to be the benchmark for where I'm at and where I need to go for Rio.
"It's nice to get a taste of where these girls have come up to.
"Becky was always going to be a handful; she's definitely going to be a big challenge."
Before Rio, the pair are likely to go head to head again at next year's Glasgow Commonwealth Games, four years after Meares edged the then 18-year-old James to win Commonwealth gold in Delhi.
Meares stamped her return with the fastest 200m qualifying time of the 28 competitors, a blistering 10.874 seconds but she admitted to pre-meet jitters.
"I was a little bit nervous as there is a lot of expectation that comes with being the Olympic champion," she said. "It is new to me to be the hunted as I was always hunting Vicky.
"But that has to be managed in my own head, as I am not going to be in the form of that Olympic race in every race of my life.
"And all these girls are young, their improvements are always going to be significant while mine are going to be minimal given my age and how long I have already been in the sport.
"But this is what I love about sprinting. It is always a challenge, the game keeps changing and I have to stay on my toes and keep doing my homework.
"I really have to work very, very hard if I want to be back at the top. But I want it. It will happen. I will work very bloody hard, don't worry about that."
Germany's Kristina Vogel won Saturday's sprint gold medal, beating Lee Wai Sze of Hong Kong 2-0 in the final.
In other events, Australians Rebecca Wiasak (individual pursuit) and Luke Davison (omnium) won a silver and bronze medal respectively.
Australians take silver and bronze on Friday
Great Britain's women set a second world record in two rides at the expense of Australia and Canada as they won the team pursuit final on Friday's opening day of the Track World Cup in Manchester.
Olympic champions Laura Trott, Dani King and Joanna Rowsell plus Elinor Barker qualified in four minutes 23.910 seconds to earn a final showdown with Canada.
And they then went even quicker, clocking 4:19.604 to win the final.
The inexperienced quartet of Annette Edmondson, Rebecca Wiasak, Georgia Baker and Elissa Wundersitz earlier clinched the bronze medal after combining as Australia's first four-rider formation for the newly expanded 4km event.
The British times bettered the world record mark (4:26.556) they set in winning the European title last month in the revised event, which previously took place over three kilometres and with three riders.
Before the women's decider, Britain's men won team pursuit gold with a comfortable final victory over Australia.
The British quartet of Ed Clancy, Steven Burke - both London 2012 champions in the event - Andy Tennant and Owain Doull were the only squad to qualify in under four minutes in the four-man, 4km event and lived up to their billing as favourites by going quicker in the final.
The British squad won in three minutes 58.552 seconds, with Australia's Luke Davison, Alex Edmondson, Mitchell Mulhern and Miles Scotson second in 3mins 59.064secs.
Australia set off quicker but the British quartet overhauled their rivals at the halfway mark and increased their advantage in the remaining 2km.
The Australians shed a rider for the final kilometre, leaving them with the minimum three for the finish, and Britain's four men pushed forward, propelled by the familiar partisan din of the Manchester crowd, to take victory.
Denmark (4:01.893) were third ahead of Holland (4:03.916).
Following excursions to London and Glasgow, the British round of the Track World Cup event was returning to Manchester for the first time since February 2011, when Bradley Wiggins was in the victorious team pursuit squad.
Wiggins and Mark Cavendish have expressed an interest in riding the event at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, but there is plenty of strength in depth in the line-up, as proved by Doull's emergence.
Olympic champions Kristina Vogel and Miriam Welte of Germany won the women's team sprint in a time of 32.788, with Britain's Victoria Williamson and Becky James coming second in 33.635, while Chinese trade team Max Success Pro Cycling took bronze ahead of Russia.
Perkins medals on final day
Victoria's Shane Perkins wrapped up Australia's campaign at the UCI Track World Cup in Manchester with bronze in the men's sprint to take the team's tally to five for the three-day competition. In other final day events, Stephanie Morton (SA) finished fifth and Anna Meares (SA) seventh in the women's keirin; Annette Edmondson (SA) finished fifth in the women's omnium and then backed up with eighth in the women's points race while her brother Alex Edmondson (SA) took ninth in the men's scratch.
The heat was on from the start in the men’s sprint, with nine riders clocking under ten seconds in the flying 200m sprint qualification. Australia’s representatives Matthew Glaetzer (9.944), Shane Perkins (9.945) and Peter Lewis (9.957) made it through with three of the top seven fastest times.
While Lewis was knocked out in the 1/8 finals by Matt Crampton (GBR), Glaetzer and Perkins won their match ups to set up a quarterfinals clash between the pair where Perkins edged his younger team mate in two heats.
Germany’s Robert Forstemann got the better of Perkins in two straight heats in the semi final, while Njisane Phillip of Trinidad and Tobago defeated Crampton.
In the bronze medal ride, Perkins defeated Crampton easily in two straight heats to take the bronze, while Forstemann took gold.
World and Olympic bronze medallist Annette Edmondson finished fifth in the women’s omnium won by Olympic champion Laura Trott of Great Britain.
Edmondson entered the final day of competition just two points off the podium, but couldn’t make up ground on the rest of the field despite two top five finishes in the final three events.
She finished on 28 points, two behind the bronze medal, and nine behind Trott who was a clear winner with 19 points.
Edmondson backed up her top five omnium showing with eighth in the women’s 20km points race. Edmondson finished on 8 points, but was a lap down on the top five riders including eventual winner, Canada’s Laura Brown.
Anna Meares and fellow South Australian Stephanie Morton were Australia’s representatives in the women’s keirin. In the first round, Morton made it straight through finishing second in her heat, while Meares was forced to go through the repechage rounds after finishing fifth.
In the second round, Morton won her heat while Meares just missed the final after finishing fourth in the second heat. Morton went on to finish fifth in the final won by Germany’s Kristina Vogel ahead of Becky James (GBR) and Sandie Clair (FRA). Meares easily won the 7-12 final.
In the final event of the night, Men’s Scratch 15km, Alex Edmondson (SA) finished ninth, with the race won by Andreas Muller of Austria.
Great Britain lead the UCI Track Cycling World Cup standings after the first round with Australia second.
The three-day event held at the British National Cycling Centre featured 300 of the world's best track cyclists competing for UCI qualification points towards World Championships and Olympic Games qualification.
The second round of the 2013-14 series wil be held in Aguascalientes (Mexico) from December 6, with the third and final round TBC.
The 2014 UCI Track Cycling World Championships will be held in Cali (Colombia) in February.