The Australian Cycling Team grabbed four gold and two silver medals at the third round of the UCI Track World Cup in Berlin, Germany at the weekend.
World record holders Samuel Welsford, Alexander Porter, Leigh Howard and Kelland O'Brien, plus Cameron Scott claimed team pursuit gold, reigning world champion Matthew Glaetzer continued his unbeaten run in the sprint, Stephanie Morton claimed her first individual gold of the season, while Sam Welsford took omnium gold.
It continues the team’s strong start to the six-event World Cup series which began in October. The team topped the medal tally in Paris with eight medals including three gold, three silver and two bronze before adding four medals, including two gold at round two in Canada.
"This World Cup was another good benchmark for the Australian Cycling Team and shows we are progressing well and currently on track," said Simon Jones, Performance Director, Cycling Australia. "There is still a lot of work to do, but it’s good to score UCI points and be competing well."
World record holders Samuel Welsford, Alexander Porter, Leigh Howard and Kelland O'Brien, lined up in the team pursuit for the first time since April’s Commonwealth Games where they stunned the world with the first sub three minute-fifty second ride in the event’s history.
In Berlin, the quartet topped qualifying (3:53.426), and with Cameron Scott coming into the team for the first round and progressed to the final with a strong win (3:53.033) over rivals and Olympic champions Great Britain.
With Howard returning for Scott for the final, the world’s fastest team held off a challenge from a strong Danish outfit (3:54.703) to take the gold in a superb time of 3 minutes 51.210 seconds.
“It was great to line up again with the boys,” said Welsford. “We gel so well and to come back together and post a good time is a good sign we are on the right path.”
It was a successful weekend for Welsford who claimed dual gold in Germany with a come-from-behind victory in the final race of the four-race omnium.
“The omnium was a bit of a surprise; I haven't raced one at the world level since the World Championships in 2017, so to come away with the win was surreal. It came down to the last points race and luckily enough, I had good legs to take it out.”
In the women’s team pursuit, Amy Cure and Annette Edmondson rejoined the squad for the first time since April’s Commonwealth Games, and with Ashlee Ankudinoff and Georgia Baker, won silver.
Fastest qualifiers (4:19.073), the quartet moved to the final (4:18.083) by defeating Canada in the first round. In a heartbreaking final, the Australian quartet led for the first fifteen of sixteen laps, before the Great Britain outfit (4:16.153) caught their traditional rivals (4:16.413) inside the last half lap to take the gold.
Stephanie Morton topped sprint qualifying with her first career sub 10.5 second ride in the flying 200m (10.484seconds) before riding away to her first individual gold at World Cup level.
After knocking out Katy Marchant (GBR) and Daria Shmeleva (RUS), Morton took gold in two straight rides over Anastasiia Voinova (RUS) in the final to complete an undefeated campaign.
“After a few silvers, to finally turn it around and get my first sprint win at a World Cup, it is unreal,” said Morton, who collected five medals from six events across the first two rounds of the 2018/19 season in October.
“With Matt and me in a heavy training block at the moment, I went into the day relaxed with no pressure on myself and was prepared for a big "shut up legs" kind of day.
“So when I looked up and saw the time of 10.4, I was speechless, and anyone who knows me knows that is very rare!
“I knew backing up was going to be tough with training in the legs so I took it one race at a time, focusing on the skill or tactic that Ross (Edgar) and I wanted to work on, knowing that crossing the line first would be the bonus.”
Reigning world champion Matthew Glaetzer’s unbeaten run in the sprint this World Cup season remains intact with his third gold medal.
Third fastest in qualifying (9.659secs), Glaetzer moved through to the quarterfinals with ease where he defeated Denis Dmitriev (RUS), before knocking Rayan Helal (FRA) out in the semi-finals. Glaetzer’s World Cup sprint reign continued as he took gold in two straight rides over Matthijs Buchli (NED) who had edged the Australian for keirin gold the previous night.
“Today was one of the hardest sprint competitions I have done,” said Glaetzer, who revealed he is in the middle of a training block. “The semi-final went to the best of three after I didn't execute my race plan properly, but I fixed it for the decider which took a lot out of me. It was at this point that I was wrecked and joked to Ross Edgar that I would try and keep up with Buchli in the final and not get dropped!
“We had our first race for gold, and when I was able to roll him up the front straight, it showed I still had just enough legs left to get the job done, so I made sure I didn't go to the best of three again!”
In other results, young guns Kelland O’Brien and Cameron Scott claimed fifth in the Madison, while Annette Edmondson was fourth in the omnium, and Ashlee Ankudinoff and Amy Cure finished sixth in the women’s Madison.
Morton and Glaetzer will now move on to the UCI Track World Cup's fourth round to be held in London from December 14.
All other members of the Australian Cycling Team will be back in action on home soil at the 2019 Cycling Australia Track National Championships which begin in Melbourne on Thursday 13 December at DISC Velodrome with the Para-cycling Nationals.
The Omnium Nationals cap the week on Friday 14 December, with Melbourne Arena to host a massive night of racing on Saturday 15 December headlined by the Madison, Team Sprint and Team Pursuit Nationals. >>> tracknationals.org.au