Anna Meares
Anna Meares Mark Dadswell

Fun and games move to cycling track

NOWHERE in London is there more pressure on the home side to perform than at the velodrome - and the moment of truth has now arrived.

The expectation was enormous even before Bradley Wiggins stood on top of the podium after the Tour de France.

Tonight the British fans will learn whether their riders are up for the challenge, which will largely come from the Australians.

First cab off the rank is the much-anticipated women's team sprint, where the Aussie pair of Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch will hope to draw first blood against the darling of British cycling, Victoria Pendleton, and partner Jess Varnish.

Pendleton and Meares say they have nothing but respect for each other, but when they hit the track neither rider will stop at anything to claim victory.

The Brit plans to retire after her home Olympics, adding even more intrigue to the contest.

While Pendleton obviously wants to go out a winner, Meares has no intention of allowing her rival the last word after 10 years of trading world dominance - Meares has 10 world titles, Pendleton nine and they have one Olympic gold medal each.

The team sprint (the qualifying is at 1am tomorrow and the final at 3am) will provide the first opportunity for Pendleton to draw level. The two champions will also contest the kierin and individual sprint.

The Aussies and Brits are also expected to be the teams to beat in the men's sprint.

The British team will be out for revenge after losing their crown at this year's world championships in Melbourne.

They were relegated after an illegal changeover in qualifying, a controversial ruling that put Australia into the gold-medal ride against France.

The Aussie then produced the perfect ride to take the gold in a major upset and secure Australia's first world title in the event since 1996.

While the Brits will be out for revenge, the Aussie trio of Matthew Glaetzer, Shane Perkins and Scott Sunderland are desperate to add gold to that world title.

The men's team pursuit will also start tonight and a world record is likely.

Again the Brits will start as favourites, but the Australian squad of Jack Bobridge, Michael Hepburn, Rohan Dennis, Alex Edmondson and Glenn O'Shea will be nipping at their heels.



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