‘Small step’ as Australia clean up in Games cycling

Stephanie Morton (front) won the women's keirin as Australia took three golds on the final night.
AFP

Brisbane (Australia) (AFP) – The head of Australian cycling said his team had taken only a “small step” on Sunday after the rejuvenated hosts dominated four days of track competition at the Commonwealth Games.

A rampant Australia celebrated a hat-trick of titles on the final day to take their haul of gold medals to 10 and help banish the bitter memories of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The Australian cyclists failed to win a single gold in Rio in one of their poorest Olympic performances for decades.

There have since been swingeing changes at the top of Australian cycling, with Simon Jones drafted in last year as high-performance director from his position as head of innovation at Britain’s Team Sky.

“It has exceeded our expectations and overall fantastically happy,” said Jones, who saw the Australians smash the world record in the men’s team pursuit and with road cycling yet to come.

“We’ve had a plan and we’ve done a few things differently. I think that’s all it needed — a slightly different perspective.

“We’ve got some great people and some really good teamwork and we have done a lot of work on the people and I guess the way that we work,” said Jones, for whom the Commonwealths were seen as the first real test of his tenure.

But Jones, a respected figure in the sport who was also at British Cycling, had a warning for the Australians.

“This project is going to take a long time,” he cautioned. “It’s a Commonwealth Games, it’s not a world-level competition.

“We’ve had some fantastic performances, but it’s just a small step in the right direction. It’s not the destination for us.” 

– ‘Work on being better’ –

On Sunday, in front of another capacity 4,000 crowd at the Anna Meares Velodrome, Matt Glaetzer blitzed his way to gold in the last outing in the 1,000m time trial.

His winning time of 59.340sec was a new Commonwealth record and was his second gold of the Games.

The Australian tally was embellished by golds for Amy Cure in the 10km scratch race and Stephanie Morton in the women’s keirin.

“Rio wasn’t good for the team and I think after those types of experiences, people want to go and do something different, and I sensed that when I came in there was an appetite for doing things differently,” said Jones.

“You need to have excellent individuals within a team, but you need an excellent team culture too.”

Asked if the last four days had sent out a message to world cycling, including Britain, who reigned supreme in Rio, Jones said unequivocally: “I’m not interested in anyone else, I’m not going to focus on anyone else. We’ve got to go away and set our own targets.

“That’s a bit of a theme: I don’t really care what anyone else does, it’s not of interest what the Brits do or anyone else. 

“We’ve just go to work on being better ourselves.”

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