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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

World Track Championships - CM

Melbourne, Australia, May 26-30, 2004

Preview    Event program and results 

Track World's gear up in Melbourne

Spain (L) and the Ukraine train on the track at the Vodafone Arena
Photo ©: Shane Goss
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The stage is set for the 2004 Track Cycling World Championships at Vodafone Arena in Melbourne, Australia, with over 200 cyclists from 43 nations due to take part in the meeting between May 26-30. Over the five days of racing there are 15 World Championships to be decided: six individual disciplines for men and women and three men's team events. The winner(s) of each event will earn the right to wear the rainbow jersey on the track for the next 12 months. The Championships are also the last chance for countries to qualify places for the Athens Olympic Games and for the riders to earn a place on their respective Olympic teams.

The racing kicks off on Wednesday night with the men's 40km points race where Austrian Franz Stocher will be defending his title. The second medal of the night will be awarded in the men's teams sprint, where Australia, Great Britain, France and defending champions Germany are the favourites. A top ten finish in this event will not only secure a start for the nations at the Olympics but will also earn one starting position for each of the sprint, kilometre time trial and keirin events in Athens.

Katherine Bates
Photo ©: Shane Goss
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Thursday, May 27, will see the kilometre time trial, tipped to be one of the most hotly contested events of the week. The gold medal can be decided by a mere thousandth of a second, and the starting list includes at least half a dozen possible winners. Local hero Shane Kelly is a three-time kilometre World Champion and is vying for a place at a fourth consecutive Olympic Games, as is compatriot Ben Kersten. Germany's defending champion Stefan Nimke is keen to keep the jersey but his teammate Soren Lausberg has claimed four silver medals in the event since 1996 and has gold in mind. British pair Chris Hoy, the 2002 World Champion, and Craig McLean have been in sizzling form in recent weeks and, despite a recent bout of illness, Frenchman Arnaud Tournant is fired up to win back the title he held for four years between 1998 and 2001.

Aussie hope Mark Jamieson
Photo ©: Shane Goss
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The women's keirin and men's individual pursuit are also being decided on Thursday. For the past two years Australian Luke Roberts has earned a silver medal in the event. In 2002 it was behind teammate Brad McGee and last year Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins earned the crown, but neither is here this week and that makes Roberts the hot favourite to move one step higher on the presentation podium. However Germany, Russia and Spain are sure to have other ideas.

The Queen of pursuit racing, Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel heads the Dutch medal charge on Friday, but she faces serious opposition from rising star, Australia's Katie Mactier who will be racing in front of her hometown crowd. Zijlaard-van Moorsel is the reigning World and Olympic record holder for the 3km individual pursuit and has four World Titles to her credit (1990, 2001, 2002 and 2003).

All aboard
Photo ©: Shane Goss
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Mactier is a relative newcomer to track racing but successfully defended her Australian Title in Sydney last month and took the silver medal behind Zijlaard-van Moorsel on debut at last year's World Championships in Stuttgart. Also in hot form is New Zealand star Sarah Ulmer, who last weekend in Sydney rode a time within 0.30 seconds of the world record to win gold and secure overall honours for the World Cup series.

Also on Friday night, the men's keirin will be raced with Frenchman Laurent Gane and Australian Jobie Dajka the riders to watch. Dajka was the 2002 champion but Gane pushed the Australian into second place last year in Manchester.

The men's scratch race will also be decided on Friday night.


Images by Shane Goss/www.licoricegallery.com