By Barnaby CHESTERMAN
Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France, Feb 17, 2015 (AFP) – Australia will be
going for a fifth men’s team pursuit gold in six years when the Track Cycling
World Championships begin near Paris on Wednesday.
To help boost their efforts, Jack Bobridge is taking a break from road
cycling to try to claim gold on the track.
It will be the 25-year-old’s first return to the track pursuit team since
the Australians were eclipsed by Great Britain in 2012.
The Brits also pipped them to the Olympic title in London.
Bobridge comes into the event just two weeks after a failed attempt to
break the world hour record on track, when he fell 500-metres short of the
mark set by Austrian Matthias Brandle, although fellow Aussie Rohan Dennis has
since taken the record.
Australia’s main competition is set to come from the Olympic champions and
Britain recently claimed victory in the World Cup series ahead of Australia
and have picked a mix of youth and experience for their world championship
London Olympic gold medallist Steven Burke has made a rapid recovery from a
broken collarbone to take his place alongside Ed Clancy and Andy Tennant while
youngster Matt Gibson could ride one of the early rounds.
Denmark, who took silver last year in Colombia, are likely to put up a
strong challenge with Rasmus Christian Quaade and Casper von Folsach surviving
from that quartet.
New Zealand, bronze medallists in 2012 and last year, and Russia could also
put in a medal challenge but it is the Commonwealth Games champions Australia,
who beat an England squad featuring Bradley Wiggins in Glasgow last year,
which will begin as favourites, particularly given the boost of Bobridge’s
In the women’s team pursuit, Britain will be looking to defend their title
led by Olympic champions Laura Trott and Joanna Roswell.
Britain, whose team includes Katie Archibald and Elinor Barker, are bidding
for a fifth consecutive gold medal in the event.
They also won the only two rounds of the World Cup they started.
Australia, Canada and the United States are likely to provide the
competition but perhaps will merely be battling out for the minor medals.
Roswell will also be defending her individual pursuit title and is likely
to face strong competition from American Sarah Hammer, who pipped Trott to
omnium gold last time out.
Germany are likely to come to the fore in the sprint disciplines with
Kristina Vogel leading the way.
The Kazakhstan born athlete won three gold medals last time out and will
again be favoured in the individual sprint and keirin.
She and Miriam Welte, the women’s 500m timetrial champion, are the reigning
world and Olympic champions in the team sprint and will be a tough pair to
beat yet again.
Frenchman Francois Pervis will be the star draw at the national velodrome
The 30-year-old won the individual sprint, timetrial and keirin in Cali.
However, he will face tough competition from triple Olympic champion Jason
Kenny of Britain, the 2012 world sprint champion, Germany’s 2013 world
champion Stefan Boetticher and Russian Denis Dmitriev, a medallist at the last
Nineteen gold medals will be decided over the five-day event, although the
main focus just over 18-months out from the Rio Olympics will be the Games
disciplines of men’s and women’s team pursuit, individual sprint, team sprint,
keirin and omnium.