Two golds for Hoy, but Aussies claim bragging rights over Team GB in Melbourne
Six golds out of 12 for hosts, two for GB, as Meares and Pendleton talk about their rivalry
Australia’s cricketers may be having a tough time of it against England in the second Ashes test in Adelaide, but their cyclists secured bragging rights over Team GB in this week’s UCI Track Cycling World Cup Classics in Melbourne, winning half of the 12 gold medals on offer.
Great Britain’s cyclists were left with just two golds, the second claimed by Sir Chris Hoy in the men’s Keirin on Friday, adding to the one he had won 24 hours earlier in the men’s team sprint, where he rode alongside Matthew Crampton and Jason Kenny, the latter also picking up a silver in the individual sprint.
Victoria Pendleton had to be content with two silver medals in the individual and team sprints, partnered in the latter by Jess Varnish, the pair losing to China’s Jinje Gong and Shaung Guo.
Meanwhile, there was bronze in the Omnium, won by Canada’s Shane Archbold, for Ed Clancy, and the Yorkshireman, who is moving from Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta to Rapha Condor Sharp, also picked up a bronze in the team pursuit with Steven Burke, Luke Rowe and Andy Tennant.
That event was won by the hosts, the quartet of Jack Bobridge, Michael Hepburn, Leigh Howard and Cameron Meyer recording the fastest ever time for the event on Australian soil as they beat Russia in the final.
Despite Hoy’s two gold medals, he was outshone by home favourite Anna Meares when it came to the best individual haul of the event, the 27-year-old, who won three gold medals at the recent Commonwealth games in Delhi, picking up three wins, in the 500m time trial, keirin and individual sprint.
After winning her third gold yesterday evening, Meares, who recovered from a broken neck to take silver in the individual sprint behind Victoria Pendleton at the Beijing Olympics, said: "I'm particularly pleased with my performances, but I'm pretty tired. I've only raced two days and [team mate] Kaarle [McCulloch] has raced three, so I can only imagine how she's feeling.
"I've always had a great run at the Melbourne World Cup and it's always kicked off my season well.
"Great morale, positive attitude and that can build a great season. Coming out of Commonwealth Games and having put some good times on the board, I wanted to have some good races against some quality opponents and you're not going to get any more quality than what your finding here at Melbourne," she added.
Meares recovered from a broken neck in 2008 to take Olympic silver at Beijing behind Pendleton, but turned the tables at Melbourne to pip the Briton to gold, and after that race she acknowledged that her rival may not be quite at the top of her game.
"Victoria has dominated this event in the last five or six years, and it's been a long time between sprints for a win over her," Meares explained. "To be able to do it in front of a home crowd tonight is extra special.
"I don't think Vicky is quite at her best tonight and I was expecting anything from her, [because] a world champion is scarier when they are perhaps not at their best because they can really draw on those emotions and the attitude you need.
"For me honestly, it means that I can beat her and that is huge for me, I haven't had that feeling for [five] years," said Meares. "I know I have worked particularly hard, I know that she is going to work even harder but I know now I can do it and that gives me a whole different approach to every time I line up against her
"I wouldn't actually say it's a psychological edge over her, if anything it's just going to give her fuel to go home make sure it doesn't happen again, but it definitely gives me fuel to go home and make sure it continues to happen," she concluded.
Pendleton admitted afterwards that she had affected by a bad crash suffered by her semi-final opponent, Guo of China, which resulted in the latter being taken to hospital for x-rays.
"I have never been in that situation before and it did unnerve me a bit," said the British rider. "After that I was a little unsure about carrying on, (as) you always want to qualify for a final on merit not by default."
Nevertheless, Pendleton maintained she was happy that her preparations for London 2012 were progressing well, saying: "I am pleased with my form, you can't be fast all the time and you have to make choices about racing.
"I chose not to go to the Commonwealth Games in favour of the Europeans. I was happy with that decision but certainly had a few moments of regret when I was watching it on television.
"Anna [Meares] is probably the most experienced rider on the scene, I mean she was well on her way to achieving great things before I even started," she continued, reflecting the fact tht despite being three years the British rider’s junior, Meares’ developed more quickly in her early career.
"She was the first ride I came up against at the Commonwealth Games and she put me away pretty easily, and she's still here at the top of her game,” added Pendleton.
"I think that shows real class in an athlete, as I find it hard to perhaps find the motivation to continue for another year and I've only been doing it for half the time so I've got a lot of respect for people (like that) because it's not easy."
After completing the final lap at blinding speed to overtake the field and take gold in the keirin, Hoy said: "I had to be a bit more flexible with my tactics as that final was the fastest ever keirin. I did a 10.0 (sec) for the last 200m and I think that's a few tenths quicker than anyone's ever done before.
"I just had to be patient, as if you panic and you go too soon, then you can get stuck on the outside and you have to slow down.
"So I just really hit it as hard as I could with just over a lap to go and by the time I hit the 200m line I was really flying."