AusCycling | Track cycling leads Australian gold rush on Day 1 at Birmingham 2022

Track cycling leads Australian gold rush on Day 1 at Birmingham 2022

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Day 1 of Birmingham 2022 delivered in almost every way for the Commonwealth Games Australia cycling team, winning three gold medals and a bronze at London's Lee Valley VeloPark.

Women's team pursuit produce two flawless performances to win gold

A young Australian women's team pursuit squad filled with three debutants were untouchable on the opening day of Birmingham 2022, winning gold in a Commonwealth Games record-time of 4:12.234.

The quartet of Georgia Baker, Chloe Moran, Maeve Plouffe and Sophie Edwards had broken the same record earlier in qualifying with a marker of 4:14.605.

"This is our first big multi-sport championship together, we've got some experience on the team but we also have some new legs and I think the hunger is really showing."

"We haven't been together very much so to come out and break the Games record in qualifying and then smash it again in the final is pretty special," Baker said.

New Zealand finished with a silver medal despite riding with essentially only three riders in both rides due to the absence of Ally Wollaston, who fractured her wrist on Stage 2 of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift earlier this week.

Star Kiwi sprinter Ellesse Andrews substituted in to the team pursuit squad as a result but pulled off after one lap in both qualifying and the gold medal final.

Men's Team Sprint blast to record-breaking gold

Matthew Glaetzer, Matthew Richardson and Leigh Hoffman stormed to a team sprint victory to remember to end Day 1, smashing England by 1.332 seconds to win the gold medal final.

The trio's 42.040 time was nothing short of electric and eclipses the previous national record of 42.103, set at last year's Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, as well as a new Commonwealth Games benchmark.

The victory adds a fourth Commonwealth Games gold to Glaetzer's tally at his third Games appearance.

"It really does mean extra for me," Glaetzer said.

"It’s been a tough couple of years but I knew I was capable and wanted to deliver some more medals for Australia."

'It's an absolute dream': Gallagher and Ward win Australia's first gold at Birmingham 2022

Women's para-cycling tandem Jessica Gallagher and Caitlin Ward (pilot) clinched Australia's first gold medal of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games in entertaining fashion, defeating Scotland in the final of the Women's Tandem B Sprint.

Gallagher and Ward qualified first by 0.470 seconds and put their clear speed advantage to good use in the gold medal final to win gold.

"I'm just ecstatic, it's a real privilege to be here at the Commonwealth Games and the reality is as a vision-impaired athlete that I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Caity and I'm so grateful and very aware of just how privileged I am to get to ride with her," Gallagher said.

"She's a phenomenal athlete and more importantly a phenomenal person so it's been wonderful getting to share this experience with her.

"We'll spend the time being able to celebrate and enjoy this incredible moment together and then we have another race on Sunday with the kilo.

"We'll certainly enjoy this and build that momentum going into Sunday."

The final race with Scotland had onlookers gritting their teeth when the Australian pairing were caught on the inside of the track, however, Ward and Gallagher were able to safely back out and launch another surge around the outside of the Scots on the last bend.

"We had the lane and they came down on us, they pushed us on to the duckboard and it was pretty sketchy. I thought we were going to hit wheels and come off," Ward said.

"But I just knew that we had to power on and get around so we backed off and came around and put everything down.

"We're pretty confident on the front but from behind it's pretty hard on the tandem so it's a huge win - very exciting."

The win was an extra special moment for pilot Ward, who believed her career was all but finished two years ago.

"It's an absolute dream, I just can't believe it - it's everything I've ever dreamt of, it's just the best," Ward said.

"It's been a really big journey, I've had lots of ups and downs and at the start of the COVID pandemic I lost my scholarship, so I thought that was the end of the road for me.

"This opportunity is everything I could've ever imagined and I'm so grateful to have ridden it with Jess and to be here with this gold is just everything."

Young men's team pursuit squad win bronze

Australia's young brigade of James Moriarty, Luke Plapp, Conor Leahy, Josh Duffy and Graeme Frislie delivered a bronze medal in the men's team pursuit after overcoming Wales.

All five riders took part over qualifying and the bronze medal final, with Frislie, Plapp, Leahy and Duffy stopping the clock at 3:50.403 to set a new in-competition personal best for the developing group.

"That's a PB for us, so to get a medal and a PB ... I don't think you can really ask for much more," Leahy said.

"Every time you hit a PB it feels so good, it just shows that you're on the right track to getting on that top step, so yeah, stoked.

"(We're) kicking it (the Games) off really nicely."


Main picture: Guy Swarbrick
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