Sam Welsford (WA) is excited to be back on the World Championships stage and is champing at the bit at the chance of claiming his third team pursuit rainbow jersey for Australia in four years.
2017 world champions Australia did not defend its rainbow jersey at the 2018 World Championships due to team’s target event of the year being the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
The strategic decision not to attend both events was rewarded with Welsford, Leigh Howard (VIC), Kelland O’Brien (VIC) and Alexander Porter (SA) setting a new work mark of 3mins 49.804secs en route to winning gold.
“It’s been a while since we’ve been to the worlds, we missed out on last years but I think all the boys were really really eager to get out there and race,” said Welsford. “We had the rainbows in 2017 so I’m pretty confident I can say on behalf the boys that we want to go and get those back so that’s what we’ll be striving for.”
Australia’s team pursuit outfit in Poland will feature the world record holders in Welsford, Howard, O’Brien, Porter, in addition to Cameron Scott (NSW) who will make his elite World Championships debut.
The quintet combined to win team pursuit gold at the UCI Track World Cup in Germany in December and Welsford is predicting fast times when the team pursuit opens on day one of competition in Poland.
“Team pursuit times are getting so fast now, a lot of teams are getting down to that low (three minutes) 50 (second) barrier,” he said. “I think we should be able to go out there and ride a really good time, but it really depends on the conditions of the Poland track.
“I think we’re at a good level at the moment and in good form so we can produce a really good time that could go close to that world record.”
Welsford will also contest the omnium, and the national champion will be one to watch in the four-race event after also claiming World Cup gold last December.
“Pretty keen to test the Omnium again at the World Championships, it’s been a while since I’ve done that,” he added. “I had some early success in the World Cups last year so I’m really keen to give it a big crack. “I really think that the work we’ve been doing on the bike and in the gym will put me in a good spot, so I’m really keen to give the Omnium a crack again.”
A veteran of the team at just 23, the two-time world champion and Olympic silver medallist Welsford is also thrilled to be a part of teammate Scott’s debut.
“Training with Cam and racing the Madison with him, he’s a good mate of mine so for him to come into the program and go to his first worlds is always pretty special,” Welsford said. “I remember my first one in 2016 and you’ll never forget your first worlds, so I think he’ll be loving it over there.”
The Australian Team is scheduled to arrive in Pruszkow, Poland on Wednesday 20 February ahead of the 2019 UCI Track World Championships which will be held from 27 February to 3 March.
Welsford will be in action in the team pursuit on the first two days, before taking on the omnium on day four.
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2019 UCI Track World Championships - Poland