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Saturday, 3 August, 2002, 21:10 GMT 22:10 UK

Golden times for Aussies

By Clive Lindsay
BBC Sport Online in Manchester

Stuart O'Grady brought the cycling events to a close just as his Australian team-mates had started it - with gold.

Indeed, that is the way it has been all the way through the last seven days, whether on the track, or on the road, as the Aussies swept all before them.

Since opening with a clean sweep in the time-trial, they have bagged 23 medals, including 10 golds, and produced a world record in the 4,000m team pursuit.

They confirmed their dominance with another 1-2-3 in the final event as Tour de France star O'Grady took the road race title.

"We have a hell of a team for the world championships"
Stuart O'Grady

It was his third Commonwealth Games gold - having won the scratch race and 4,000m individual pursuit in Victoria in 1994 - but this one was particularly sweet.

Victory came a matter of days after what O'Grady described as a disappointing Tour, even though he finished third in the points total.

And he believes it was proof that Australia would be sending their strongest ever challenge to the world championships later in this year.

"It was difficult to persuade our French team to let us come here as they don't realise the significance of the Commonwealth Games (contractual obligations prevented Scotland's David Millar taking part)," he said.

"But it means a lot for Australian cycling. For the first time, we will have a hell of a team for the world championships this year."

But he had some consoling words for the English, Northern Irish, Scots and Welsh, who have mainly been left trailing in their slipstream.

"These things go in cycles"
Stuart O'Grady

"I wouldn't say we are that far ahead of the British," he said.

"England's team pursuit team did well, but they were beaten by a world record.

"These things go in cycles and we have a lot of good riders coming through at the moment."

Cadel Evans, who added road race silver to his time trial gold, put his country's success down to a long-established coaching system and development programme.

But other nations have followed their example and they will be hoping Evans is right in his belief that there will be a much greater challenge for Australia in years to come.

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