A team of five Australian riders will compete at the 2021 UCI Track World Championships in Roubaix, France this week from October 20-24.
The Australian squad is comprised of Commonwealth Games gold medallists Annette Edmondson, Alexandra Manly, Kelland O’Brien, Gold Coast 2018 team member Georgia Baker and rising star Lucas Plapp, who will compete in four events over three days.
Baker and Manly will pair together in the Women’s Madison on October 23, while Melburnians O’Brien and Plapp will form the Australian duo for the Men’s Madison on October 24.
Edmondson will be the first Australian in action at Stab Velodrome in Roubaix for the Women’s omnium, which begins Friday, October 22 and finishes in the early hours of Saturday morning in Australia.
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Kelland O’Brien will compete in the Men’s omnium on October 23, an event that he has had his eye on for quite some time.
“It’s been on my mind for a long time, wanting to put my hand up and do a world-class omnium and now is my chance,” O’Brien said.
“I’m going to go out there and try to execute as best as a ride I can and take it one race at a time and see what we can do in the final (points) race.
“My eyes are definitely open for the potential for this to be quite a big shock (to the body) but at the same time you’ve got to be in it to win it.”
The Olympic team pursuit bronze medallist switched to a road-focussed program following Tokyo 2020, signing with Australian professional road race cycling team Team BikeExchange as a stagiaire for the tail-end of the 2021 season.
O’Brien said he felt “strange” hopping back on a track bike so soon after the Olympics.
“It’s a little bit interesting, I always had my mind on doing the World Championships at the end of this year,” O’Brien said.
“Obviously, I’m looking forward to taking my ambitions to the road but there’s still fire in the belly and more I want to prove on the track so I’m pretty keen to get out there and race this week.
“I spent five long years chasing one thing and it didn’t quite work out so at the moment I just want to give it everything I’ve got and enjoy the experience and try and learn as much as I can – and hopefully I can take that forward (in my career).
“It is the World Championships and you always want to win, but for me, I’m trying my best to not let Tokyo influence my preparation into this week.
“I’ve never raced a World Championship Madison before and neither has he (Luke), so the experience will be good.”
Gold the goal for best friends Baker and Manly in Women’s Madison
Georgia Baker enters the Women’s Madison with a silver already in her locker from the 2019 UCI Track World Championships edition of the event with fellow Tasmanian Amy Cure.
The dual-Olympian said she would be ecstatic to go one better this weekend in Roubaix.
“To have the world stripes and colours on and a gold medal around my neck would be the dream – and especially with one of my best friends (Manly),” Baker said.
“I reckon I haven’t spent more time in my life with anyone than I’ve spent in the past six months with Alex.
“We’ve been training together and doing everything together and we can read each other really well which I think is important in the Madison – we’ve got a good partnership.
“We haven’t actually raced too many Madisons together. We raced one World Cup in New Zealand which was good, and we won that, but that was a couple of years ago.”
For Baker, the upcoming week of competition is also a chance to finish the year on a high following an undesired result at Tokyo 2020.
“Obviously everyone was really disappointed after Tokyo and now we’re just lucky to have this opportunity to race again,” Baker said.
“I know a lot of teammates back in Australia don’t have this opportunity, so we are really thankful that we can be here.
“It’s really nice to be back on the track racing and I’m super excited for the week ahead.”