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Track Worlds 2011: GB's Sutton aims to shock Australia

World Track Championships
Venue: Apeldoorn, Netherlands Dates: 23-27 March
Coverage: Watch and listen live across the BBC - What to watch and where to watch it

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Australia in for 'a shock' at Track Worlds

By Ollie Williams

British Cycling's head coach says Great Britain could stun arch-rivals Australia at this week's track cycling World Championships in the Netherlands.

GB's grip on the podium loosened after the Beijing Games, with Australia the chief beneficiaries, but Shane Sutton expects a British revival in Apeldoorn.

"I think Australia will get a bit of a shock this time around [in the men's team pursuit]," Sutton told BBC Sport.

"They won't have it all their own way, we've got our house in order now."

Australia won six gold medals and racked up 10 medals in total at last year's World Championships in Denmark, streets ahead of a British team which came second with nine medals in total, three of them gold.

People are very quick to write us off - at their peril - and come London, we'll have answered our critics

Shane Sutton

It was a similar story in Poland two years ago, when Australia again topped the medal table with 10 podium finishes, including four wins. Britain's two golds, four silvers and three bronze medals left them third behind France.

But Sutton, himself an Australian, believes the British team is now capable of challenging again as their bid for Olympic glory on a home track in 2012 nears the final straight.

"I feel we're in a really good place and I'd like to sit down on 28 March [when the competition finishes] and confirm that, but I can't do that now because I can't foresee it," he said.

"However, I'm pretty confident the outcome is going to be great come London.

"We're pretty close to the Olympic squad. The odd one will come from left field - 12 months out from Beijing Jason Kenny wasn't heard of and now you've got your Laura Trotts, Dani Kings and Sam Harrisons - but we're on the run-in now and I can't see too many people coming from outside what we have here and making the team for London.

Shane Sutton (right) with Rebecca Romero
Australian Sutton helped Team GB to Olympic glory in 2008

"We've got gifted athletes. People are very quick to write us off - at their peril - and come London, we'll have answered our critics."

British Cycling has termed its Apeldoorn World Championships squad the "nucleus" of its Olympic team for 2012, even though a couple of big names - such as team pursuiters Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas - will not take part, while women's pursuiter Lizzie Armitstead has withdrawn with a side strain.

Big-name stars Victoria Pendleton and Sir Chris Hoy lead the team's sprint ambitions, with Sutton promising spectators will see "a new Vicky" compared to the 30-year-old's disappointing outing in Manchester last month.

But fascinating battles could develop in many events as Britain's best lock horns with resurgent Australian and French teams.

There are 10 world titles in Olympic disciplines up for grabs between Wednesday and Sunday, beginning with the men's team pursuit and team sprint.

Three are Britain's to defend - Hoy was the men's keirin gold medallist in Denmark last year, Pendleton won the women's individual sprint and Ed Clancy is the men's omnium champion.

But this week promises to see British riders on the front foot in other events after a couple of leaner years, by British standards, on the world stage.

GB youngsters take to world stage

Hoy and Kenny tackle twin European team sprint rivals in the form of a French line-up led by Gregory Bauge and the defending German world champions, while Pendleton takes on Australia's Anna Meares in both the individual and team sprints.

"Anna is going in as the sprint favourite and I don't think she's ever been in that position before," Pendleton told BBC Sport.

"It is a bit of a burden to carry and I'm quite happy to relinquish that for a year and say, 'Please, Anna.'

"There'll be very high expectations of her, and rightly so - her performance in Manchester was probably the strongest she's been in quite a few years."

Performance director Dave Brailsford has already taken pains to set the British team up as hunters, rather than hunted, at this event. Expect to see that borne out in the team pursuits.

Anna Meares
Australia's Anna Meares is Victoria Pendleton's sprint arch-rival

The men's team, even stripped of Wiggins and Thomas, should give defending champions Australia and new rivals New Zealand a stern test, while the British women are out to recapture their world title from Australia.

"The ambition is to get that rainbow jersey back, definitely," said GB women's team pursuiter Joanna Rowsell.

"We've ridden the fastest time this season, at Manchester four weeks ago - we were so close to the world record - but we don't know what the Australians are going to pull out of the bag because their top team wasn't there."

Youngsters King and Trott have been handed berths in the World Championships squad with the aim of injecting pace into the women's endurance team, and Trott is expected to take on the omnium now that first choice Armitstead has dropped out.

"I just can't wait now. I didn't have a clue whether I was going to get selected or not, then to see my name on the list was an amazing feeling," said 18-year-old Trott.

"I couldn't ask for anything more than being on the same list as names like Wendy Houvenaghel and Chris Hoy.

"As a junior you think you're the bee's knees, Little Miss 'I Am', and suddenly you're just a little fish again in a big pond. You've got to accept it and aspire to be like them."

Sutton concluded: "The athletes will want medals but for the coaching team it's markers - where the gaps are, where the work needs to be done to make sure we're well ahead of the field come London."



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see also
Pendleton is up for Olympic fight
21 Mar 11 |  Cycling
Injured Armitstead out of Worlds
17 Mar 11 |  Cycling
GB name star trio in Worlds squad
14 Mar 11 |  Cycling
British pursuit team ride to gold
20 Feb 11 |  Cycling
Pendleton admits to 2012 pressure
17 Feb 11 |  Cycling


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