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World Track Championships - CM
Melbourne, Australia, May 26-30, 2004
Tales from the track
News and gossip from day 1 of the Melbourne World Track Championships
By Karen Forman in Melbourne
Australia qualifies for Olympic team sprint - but knocked out of the medals
Host country Australia has achieved its goal to qualify for the Olympics in the team sprint, but failed to made it through the second round and into the medals tonight.
The team comprising Jobie Dajka, Sean Eadie, Shane Kelly and Ryan Bayley qualified sixth against Greece to be one of the top eight to get their longed-for Olympic berth but then lost out to Spain in the first round in a quicker time that finished them sixth overall and out of medal contention.
With Eadie first and Dajka second wheel, Kelly rode third wheel in the team's first outing, which saw them cross the line in 45.136 (18.267/13.256/13.613) and then Bayley swapped with Kelly for the second ride, completed in 44.676 (18.113/13.231/13.332).
Interchanging the riders was part of coach Martin Barras' plan to give both Kelly and Bayley a tryout and despite their lack of medals, he was happy enough with his team's performance.
"It was satisfying," he said. "We knew we would be coming in behind. The Big Man (Eadie) got quite sick in the week before . . . it was a pleasing performance. Obviously we were not going to be racing for a medal, but it was a credible ride."
Barras said Kelly had put his hand up for third wheel, while Bayley was also keen, so he "had to make sure Kelly was competitive."
Kelly said after the qualifying that he was happy with his ride . . . his first in a teams sprint since 1999. "I am happy with it," he said. "Especially considering it was our first ride together. Two of the guys (Bayley and Dajka) have been in Japan until two weeks ago even they haven't ridden together in a teams sprint since last year's world championships, so that has to be taken into consideration as well."
Kelly said the team's first priority had been to make the top eight to qualify for Athens, its second to get a medal on the podium.
"It's great to be riding this event," he said. "It's something I have been wanting to do and I was given the opportunity tonight. I haven't agreed with what has happened the last four years, but I had accepted that that was the way it was."
Bayley, who completed his lap in 13.231, was also relatively happy, saying, "at least we qualified for an Olympic spot". "We were quicker the second time but we got ourselves stuck. Really we are just trying things out at the moment. Things are a bit up in the air. Sean has just come back from injury so his start isn't as quick as what it could be, so basically it was down to Jobie.
"I've been pushing with Marvin (the team's pet name for Barras) for ages that I want to go 13.3, 13.2. I've always believed that I am the fastest third wheel there is; not boasting, just thinking it quietly to myself. So when Marv said I had done 13.2, I was really happy."
Bayley, who was world keirin champion in 2001, being dubbed "the KFC fuelled king" when he revealed that fast food was a major staple of his diet, hasn't been seen much all year as he has been racing the keirin series in Japan and training at the AIS in Adelaide.
"I am feeling really good, I seem to be riding really well," he said. "Compared to the last four years I am better than ever. I have more acceleration, more speed. When I came back from Japan I didn't lose anything. All I had to do was work on my leg speed."
Bayley, who will also ride the keirin and sprint at these championships, said he had been training "very hard" with Barras this year. "I haven't missed a training session, I haven't gotten sick. Just quicker and quicker," he said. "Everything has been in my favour. And I am still eating KFC. But not as much. Half the time I can't be bothered going and getting it. So it's steak and chips - and Coke. The nutritionists tell me I shouldn't but I still do. The coach doesn't have a problem with it and he is the only person I have to please."
Bayley's goals for the rest of the year are first to make the Australian Olympic team and then to win an Olympic gold medal. He doesn't care where - teams sprint, sprint or keirin would all be great.
"But first I have to get there. It's the dream of every kid, to go to the Olympics," he said. He's unsure of his plans after Athens. "I will come back - but I don't know when. It might be a week, a year or three years. I have never been to an Olympics before, so I dunno how I will feel after it.
Eadie, meanwhile, had a big smile on his face as he tucked into a sandwich after the team's last appearance.
"Yeah I've got a smile on my face," he said. "I am back at the world championships after a two year break. I am happy to be back. And I've helped to qualify the guys for Athens. What more could I ask for?"
The veteran of the Australian team at 35, Eadie said he had almost recovered from the bout of flu, which had kept him off the bike since the Sydney round of the Track World Cup a fortnight ago. The knee that troubled him enough to keep him off the bike for two years also appeared to be holding up well.
"Possibly the flu was from all the traveling - the nationals, the World Cup and then here and all the training we had to do for them," he said. "I still have a bit of a thing, but tonight has been a good hit out for my sprint round on Saturday. Everyone else will be tired after the keirin and pursuit and I will be fresh. That's my Saturday morning."
He is hoping he'll be selected to represent Australia in Greece. "(French rider Laurent) Gane did 17.6 in the qualifying round . . . all that means it's achievable. If I get selected, I will sit down with Martin and plan how to get faster. We'll unleash Jobie, Kel and Ryan . . . the guys we've got now have the ability to do a great job." He likes riding first but says he would happily ride second if necessary. "Jobie likes the keirin so second wheel fits him. Ryan likes the keirin but likes riding third. I can get out of the gate alright, but if we found someone who prefers first wheel, then I could ride second."
Eadie said he had been happy with his form leading up to the nationals and World Cup and his mistakes had been getting "smaller and more subtle."
More Day 1 News from the Melbourne World Track Championships
By Karen Forman in Melbourne