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Aussie track cyclists shown up by Brits
Roger Vaughan
23:18 AEST Wed Aug 8 2012

The Australian track cycling team was okay at the Olympics. It was always thereabouts.

Anna Meares' outstanding sprint win was the result they needed and historically, a haul of one gold, one silver and three bronze is not shabby.

They were consistent, never finishing lower than fifth.

Just don't mention the British.

It's the comparison to Great Britain, particularly when you consider how these two fierce rivals performed at the April world titles, that puts the overall Australian results in a dim light.

At the Melbourne worlds, Great Britain won five gold medals and Australia picked up three in Olympic events.

Australia had rebuilt following their disastrous Beijing Games campaign and appeared on target.

Australia made some incremental improvements between Melbourne and London.

Great Britain, by contrast, hit top gear and won seven of the 10 gold medals on offer.

True, no other nation won more than one gold on the track - but the Australians in particular had expected to do better.

"It's difficult - you spend three or four years and you're so close," Meares said.

"You think you're starting to get the upper hand, you get to the Olympics and `whack' ... it's really frustrating."

The Australians feel the extremely parochial and vocal crowd in the Olympic velodrome was a factor in the British domination, but they admit there is much catching up to do.

"They have a very good record of preparing for one week, every four years," said Cycling Australian high performance manager Kevin Tabotta.

"They put a lot of energy to peaking in the one week and they're the masters of it."

"And it's up to us to work out how they do it and take them on at their own game."

Several factors impacted on Australia - in the men's team pursuit, they concede the June drink driving incident involving Jack Bobridge and Michael Hepburn hurt them more than was initially acknowledged.

"That team was capable of a better time if preparation was what we wanted," Tabotta said.

"We had a disrupted preparation in the last six weeks and that silver medal is a good outcome ... yes, there was an effect on those two riders in particular."

There will also be ongoing debate about whether Cameron Meyer and Luke Durbridge should have been in the team pursuit squad for the Games.

But Tabotta said it was Meyer's decision to concentrate on the road, while Durbridge simply did not make the cut.

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