Meares now the greatest of all time
23 February 2015
CYCLING: Australia is on top of the world following a glittering final night of the UCI Track World Championship in Paris which saw Anna Meares become the most successful female track cyclist in history and Annette Edmondson clinch her second gold medal of the week.
Australia’s ‘Queen of the Track’ Meares surged to victory in the women’s keirin final to win her eleventh career world title, moving one clear of French legend Felicia Ballanger who was in attendance at the National Velodrome to witness the record breaking feat.
Edmondson sealed a golden week, which began with a team pursuit title on the second night of competition, with an emotional victory in the Omnium.
In other events, Matthew Glaetzer (SA) finished fifth in the sprint, while the pairing of Jack Bobridge (SA) and Glenn O'Shea (SA) finished seventh in the Madison.
In the most successful Championships since hosting the titles in Melbourne in 2012, Australia finished on top of the medal tally with eleven medals - four gold, four silver and three bronze - four clear of both France and Germany. Only the home nation France had more gold (5) than Australia.
Australia’s four world titles came through the women’s team pursuit quartet of Ashlee Ankudinoff (NSW), Amy Cure (TAS), Annette Edmondson (SA) and Melissa Hoskins (WA), who were recognized on the final evening after setting the first world record on the track (4:13.683). While Rebecca Wiasak (ACT) claimed the individual pursuit, in addition to Meares and Edmondson.
“This is our best performance as a team in three Championships. We have been rebuilding since London and each year we have progressively edged toward the top of the podium in a number for endurance and sprint events,” said Cycling Australia High Performance Director Kevin Tabotta.
“We introduced some changes to that program after the Glasgow Commonwealth Games which has helped our coaches and athletes obtain the shift that was needed. We will keep working that way across the whole team as we head to Rio 2018 Olympic Games."
Not long after the 2014 World Championships in Cali, ten-time world champion Anna Meares dreamt she would win an eleventh record-breaking world title in France, coincidentally is the home soil of her idol, ten-time world champion Felicia Ballanger.
One year later, Meares’ premonition came to life in front of a parochial home crowd, with Australia’s ‘Queen of the Track’ surging to victory to claim her third career keirin world crown, and eleventh overall.
“Very happy, little bit emotional, very proud. It has been a tough run, but it has been a lot of fun,” Meares told Cycling Australia.
“Honestly, I don’t remember the final, I honestly can’t tell you what I did, but I won.”
Meares’ remarkable World Championship resume now boasts a mammoth 26 medals including 11 gold, eight silver and six bronze.
“I have been in this position (world champion) many times before, but it has been a long time since I have been up there,” said Meares, who last reached the top step of the podium at the 2012 World Championships in Melbourne.
“This tells me that I have to work just as hard, have to earn it as much as anyone else, and I did that today. I worked hard, I fought hard, and I earned it and I am really proud of myself,” she said.
The gold completed the set of medals for Meares who won bronze in the team sprint with Kaarle McCulloch, before finishing second in her pet-event, the time trial.
In a disappointing result for the reigning Olympic sprint champion, she failed to reach the quarterfinal stage of the sprint. Meares later revealing she spent Saturday revitalising ahead of the keirin finals by shopping with team-mates, and even spoiling herself with a slice of pizza and some chocolate.
“I had a disappointing run in the sprint, wasn’t sure how I was going to fare today but I give credit to my coach Gary West, to Kevin Tabotta and my team mates who stood behind me,” an emotional Meares told Cycling Australia.
“My teammates allowed me to have fun, to relax and I cam here today with no pressure and to enjoy myself. I figured it couldn’t get any worse that Friday.”
Australia was represented by both Meares (SA) and Stephanie Morton (SA) in the keirin final, with the pair both comfortably winning their first round heats to move straight through to the second round in which they made light-work of their opponents to finish one-two to move through to the final.
In a cruel blow for Australia, Morton suffered a puncture in the first lap of the final, with the Commissaire stopping the race. However as it was deemed to be ‘outside of the first half lap’, a devastated Morton was not permitted a place in the restarted final.
In the five-rider final, Meares took charge early going to the lead two laps from the finish. Her opponents had no answer to her power and experience as she took the victory over the Netherlands’ Shanne Braspennincx and Cuba's Lisandra Guerra.
"My heart broke for Steph, for us to go one-two in our semi-final and for her to miss the opportunity to which such good form, I'm so sorry for her,” said Meares of Morton, who despite her devastation was the first out on the track to congratulate her good friend Meares on the record-breaking win.
Following the presentation of her rainbow jersey, Meares met Ballanger for the first time, requesting a hug from her hero.
Four times the Omnium bridesmaid at the world or Olympic level, South Australia’s Annette Edmondson’s (SA) became the bride in Paris today winning the omnium title at the National Velodrome.
“I really can’t believe it, it is pretty special (to finally reach the top step of the podium) after the high of the team pursuit, this is just a bonus,” Edmondson told Cycling Australia. Edmondson, 23, the London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist who had reached the podium at the past three World Championships for a tally of two silver and one bronze.
The win secured Edmondson her second gold medal of the Championships after smashing the world record on the way to winning the team pursuit title with Ashlee Ankudinoff NSW), Melissa Hoskins (WA) and Amy Cure (TAS) on the second day of completion.
“This (omnium) win is fantastic, but nothing compares to winning it (the team pursuit) with my teammates,” admitted Edmondson. "I played that over in my head even warming up for this omnium.
“The women’s track endurance squad, has been working so hard for the past few years, so to see the success come across the entire board, it is really exciting for all of us.
“It shows we are heading in the right direction. We are looking forward to the next few years.”
The Adelaide cyclist commenced her campaign on Saturday with a fifth in the scratch race, second in the individual pursuit (3:32.831) and seventh in the elimination race which left her in second, four points behind Kirsten Wild (NED).
On Sunday, Edmondson catapulted herself to the rainbow jersey position with the fastest time trial (35.064) and fly laps of the day (14.024) and heading into the decisive final event – 25km points race - Edmondson sat 14 points clear of reigning world and Olympic champion Laura Trott (GBR).
The pair keeping a close eye on each other throughout the 100-lap race, with Edmondson’ winning two of the final four sprints to seal the victory with twenty laps remaining.
Edmondson finished on 192 points, 16 ahead of Trott, with Kirsten Wild (NED), who edged Amy Cure into scratch silver on Saturday night, was one point behind in third.
"I didn't have to do anything crazy and sure enough my three major opponents fought themselves over the first half of the race so I was quite fresh for the second half and I just had to make sure no-one took any laps."
A fast paced Madison was the final event of the Championships, with silver medallists from the omnium and individual pursuit respectively Glenn O'Shea and Jack Bobridge pulling on the green and gold for Australia.
It was a slow start to the race ahead of the first sprint with no team putting in attacks. The team from Great Britain made the first move after the opening sprint and were quickly lapping the field.
Just after the second sprint a strong attack by Bobridge and O'Shea saw Australia quickly gain an advantage, however sensing the danger though the bunch didn't let them stay away for long.
Bobridge attacked again ahead of the third sprint to take the points and move Australia to fourth place, however the field didn't give the Australian pairing any room. The attacks continued in quick succession from here with barely a moment without at least one team on the attack. At the half way mark Australia had moved up to the bronze medal position courtesy of second in the fifth sprint.
When a group of seven teams lapped the field, Australia lost a lap and were pushed down to eighth. A last minute attempt inside 20 laps remaining to regain the lap initially looked good but was brought back on the final lap.
O'Shea and Bobridge finished in seventh on eight points and a lap down.
Fifth-fastest qualifier in Saturday’s flying 200m, Matthew Glaetzer (SA) finished fifth overall in the men’s sprint competition.
Glaetzer (9.703) progressed to Sunday’s quarterfinals after defeating Robert Foerstemann (GER) and Sam Webster (NZL) in Saturday’s early rounds.
On Sunday, Glaetzer faced Netherland’s Jeffrey Hoogland who was just too powerful for the South Australian, edging him in two straight heats.
In the fifth-eighth final, Glaetzer stormed to the win to secure fifth overall.
Day 4 Wrap
With snow falling outside the National Velodrome in Paris, there was a silver lining for Australia inside with three silver medals from four finals won on the penultimate evening of the UCI Track World Championships in France.
It was a nail-biting finish to all three events, with Jack Bobridge (SA) pipped in the finals metres of the men’s 4000m individual pursuit, Tasmania’s Amy Cure (TAS) was edged into second on the home straight in the women’s scratch race, while it went down to the dying stages of the sixth and final event for South Australia’s Glenn O’Shea in the omnium.
In other events, reigning Commonwealth sprint champion Stephanie Morton (SA) secured her best ever world championship sprint result, finishing fourth while Annette Edmondson’s (SA) search for the elusive omnium world title continued in Paris, with the Adelaide cyclist lying in second position at the halfway mark of the competition. Matthew Glaetzer also progressed the the men's sprint quarterfinals.
Men’s Individual Pursuit
In a heartbreaking result, 2011 champion and world record holder Jack Bobridge (SA) lead at every time check before being pipped in the finals metres of the men’s 4000m individual pursuit by Switzerland’s Stefan Kueng.
“I love racing 100 per cent and that’s what I did. I want out full throttle and it didn’t pay off,” said Bobridge after collecting his fifth medal in the event since 2009.
“I just got beaten by a better guy on the night, that’s professional sport you’ve got to take it on the chin.
Fastest qualifier (4:16.219) by almost a second, Bobridge bolted from the gates to lead by a massive three and a half seconds at the first kilometre. With Kueng almost with his sights, he maintained this to the halfway mark, before Kueng halved the deficit with one kilometre remaining.
Bobridge continued to fight, with just two-tenths of a second separating the pair at the bell lap, before Kueng (4:18.915) edged Bobridge (4:19.184) on the line by a .25 of a second.
“I didn’t ride to a schedule I just went out and raced. I found a strength of mine obviously in the first kilometre compared to him and full credit to him he kept his cool and didn’t budge,” said Bobridge.
Defending champion Alex Edmondson (SA), who has been battling a head cold all week, finished eighth (4:23.272) and Miles Scotson (SA) was ninth (4:23.480).
Women’s Scratch 10 km
Tasmania’s Amy Cure secured a complete set of medals from the 2015 World Championships with a hard earned silver medal in the women’s scratch race.
It was Cure’s eighth medal from the last eight races she has contested at the past three world Championships, a tally that now stands at two gold, three silver and three bronze.
“Went in pressure free, went in with a clear mindset wanting to have fun and I am really happy to bring home the silver medal,” said Cure, who formed part of Australia’s world beating team pursuit quartet that claimed gold in a world record time on Wednesday evening. On Thursday, she took bronze in the individual pursuit behind Rebecca Wiasak.
“I have put everything into training, I put 100% into everything I do, and coming home with eight medal or no medals, I am happy with what I do if I give 100%.”
In Saturday’s 10km scratch race final, Cure showed no signs of the heavy workload which saw her ride three rounds of the team pursuit during the first two days of racing, followed by two rounds of the individual race yesterday.
Cure was one of the main aggressors in the latter stages of the races, and in a nail-biting final lap, she went toe to toe with the Netherland’s Kirsten Wild before being edged in the dying metres before the line.
“I was in good position coming into the final position, but Kirsten is a great bike rider, probably went a bit early and got ahead of myself, but I don’t think it mattered how late I left it I would have struggled to come over her,” said Cure.
“We (women’s endurance program) have worked so hard over the past year, on and off the bike, we have come together like more of a family now rather than a team.
“We are always there to support each other, and I think that has helped all of us along the way.”
Men’s Omnium Final
2012 omnium world champion Glenn O’Shea (SA) completed the career set of medals in the men’s omnium wining silver in Paris on Saturday.
O’Shea amassed 190 points over the six event contest, finished 15 points behind Colombia’s Fernando Gaviria Rendon (205pts) and nine clear of Italy’s Ella Viviani (181).
“I sort of gave the Colombian a head start with my fifteenth in the first event,” said O’Shea, who now boasts 2012 gold, 2015 silver and 2013 bronze in the event. “But I was really happy with the remaining five events, he was just too good over the two days and deserved to win.”
The Bendigo-native sat in sixth place after the first day of competition after finishing fifteenth in the scratch race, posting a personal best time on the way to winning the individual pursuit round (4:20.807) and a fourth in the elimination race.
He moved to equal second after two personal best times in the time trial (1:02.300/second fastest) and the flying lap (12.926/fourth fastest) saw him move clear into second, 12 points shy of Gaviria Rendon.
In the points race, Gaviria Rendon took an early lap and after a flurry of counter attacks, O’Shea reclaimed the deficit by taking a lap just after the midway point of the race to consolidate the silver medal position.
O’Shea continued to collect points over the final sixty laps, but with Gaviria marking the Australian heavily for the final stages, O’Shea was unable to reel in the Colombian.
“Silver medal is great, sure you always want to win, but it was a good two days for me,” he said. “I have a full set in this event now so it’s a good sign I am consistent, I am always around the mark, that is just the first step.
“I just want to make the next step and be the winner, particularly in eighteen months time,” added O’Shea, who also finished fifth in the omnium at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Reigning Commonwealth sprint champion Stephanie Morton (SA) secured her best ever world championship sprint result, finishing fourth at the 2015 UCI World Championships in Paris.
In Friday’s flying 200m qualifying, Stephanie Morton scorched the track with a blazing sea-level time of 10.754seconds to qualify third fastest. She progressed through to the semi final unscathed, before being beaten by the Netherland’s Ligtlee in straight heats in the semi final.
“It is bitter sweet, getting fourth means you lost your last races, but it is definitely a step forward for me,” Morton, whose reached the quarter-final stage in her 2013 debut, before falling at the round of 16 stage last year.
“It is heading where I want it to be, I am getting better and still learning and I exceeded my expectations heading into the competition.”
In 10 the Olympic events (Team pursuit, Team Sprint, Sprint, Omnium, Kieran) Australia scored six medals:
Women's Kieran - Gold - Anna Meares
Women's Omnium - Gold - Annette Edmondson.
Women's Team Pursuit - Gold - Ashlee Ankudinoff, Amy Cure, Annette Edmondson and Melissa Hoskins.
Women's Team Sprint - Bronze - Kaarle McCulloch and Anna Meares.
Men's Omnium - Silver - Glenn O'Shea
Men's Team Pursuit - Bronze - Jack Bobridge, Luke Davison, Alex Edmondson and Miles Scotson.