Cycling records tumble in World Cup event

Australia opened the Melbourne round of the World Cup track cycling series with two gold medals as records tumbled at Hisense Arena.

Crucial Olympic qualifying points are on offer at this event ahead of the 2012 London Games and three records were set on Thursday night, reflecting the outstanding quality of the field.

Australian world champions Josie Tomic and Sarah Kent combined with comeback rider Kate Bates to set a national all-comers record as they won the 3000m team pursuit, pulling away from Germany in a thrilling final.

Reigning world champions Cameron Meyer and Leigh Howard then won Australia’s second gold medal when they starred in the 40km madison.

Jinje Gong and Lin Junhong of China broke their own Australian all-comers record to win the women’s team sprint, while cycling legend Sir Chris Hoy was part of the Great British team that qualified fastest in the men’s team sprint, again with an all-comers record time.

Australia won the team pursuit final in an outstanding time of three minutes 22.171 seconds and Tomic noted they have never ridden so fast in early December, given the world titles are still four months away.

They were neck-and-neck with Germany for the first 2km in the final before pulling away, with the Germans clocking 3:23.166.

Australia had qualified fastest earlier on Thursday afternoon with 3:24.244, beating the all-comers mark of 3:24.771 that New Zealand set at this event a year ago.

Once NZ beat Canada in the bronze medal ride-off in 3:23.477, the Australians were determined to go faster again.

“When I saw the Kiwis do a 23, I thought ‘yep, I definitely want (us) to do a 22’,” Kent said.

Australia have impressive depth in the women’s team pursuit and this new Olympic event is fast becoming an event to watch for this country ahead of the London Games.

Bates has taken the place of Ashlee Ankudinoff, the third member of the world title-winning team, who has a gluteal muscle injury.

“She (Ankudinoff) needs to remember she’s a part of this and we wouldn’t be wearing these (world champion) skinsuits without her – I hope she recovers from that injury and … whatever happens, she’s back with us in training soon,” Tomic said.

“It’s definitely going to be hard and there are definitely a few others who could have done it as well, everyone here has to keep on their toes and they all have to really try and put their hands up.”

Meyer and Howard secured their madison win when they took a lap on the field with 36 laps left in the 120-lap race.

The Australians rode brilliantly in a race marred by crashes and sloppy handovers.

In the women’s team sprint, the Chinese clocked 33.240 seconds in the final to beat British star Victoria Pendleton and her team-mate Jessica Varnish (33.443).

China had set the old all-comers record of 33.5 a year ago.

The men’s team sprint all-comers record had stood since France posted 44.233 seconds at the Sydney Olympics.

Hoy combined with Matthew Crampton and Jason Kenny to qualify fastest in 43.939.

Great Britain lowered the record again when they won the men’s team sprint final in 44.938, easily beating New Zealand (44.545).

The Australian trio of Dan Ellis, Shane Perkins and Jason Niblett won the bronze medal, riding 43.829 to beat Germany’s 44.339.

It was a small measure of revenge for Australia two years after the Beijing Olympics, where the Germans beat them by less than a tenth of a second in the bronze medal ride.

MELBOURNE – 02/12/2010 10:44:42 PM [AAP]