Australians golden at velodrome
APELDOORN, Netherlands -- Australia dominated the velodrome at the track cycling world championships Saturday, taking three gold medals and a silver and establishing itself as the team to beat at next year's Olympics in London.
Australia has won six of the 15 events so far at the championships and also has two silvers and a bronze to easily top the medal table.
Only local crowd favorite Marianne Vos could halt the gold charge, beating Australian Katherine Bates to win the 10-kilometer scratch race.
Australia's dominant day started when Anna Meares won the sprint title. Minutes later, Shane Perkins took the keirin crown before Michael Freiberg triumphed in the omnium to complete the golden hat-trick.
"First Anna, then Shane and now this," Freiberg said. "This is a really great day for me. Six months ago I could never have imagined myself here."
Meares won her second gold medal of the championships, beating Simona Krupeckaite of Lithuania in two races to add the individual sprint title to her victory in the team sprint.
The Australian dominated Krupeckaite in the first sprint of the final, leading throughout the final lap and easing up as she crossed the line. She repeated the feat in the second race, raising a fist as she crossed the line well ahead.
Perkins held off a strong challenge from Olympic champion Chris Hoy in winning the keirin. Teun Mulder of the Netherlands was third.
"To beat Sir Chris Hoy is fantastic and [it is] my first world championship, so I'm absolutely ecstatic," Perkins said.
It looked as if Perkins might get boxed in between Hoy and leader Matthew Crampton at the start of the final lap, but he managed to maneuver past the British pair before powering home.
"I sort of waited and pushed Chris out ... into the wind which gave me a run out to Matt Crampton and with 200 meters to go I just gave everything I could," Perkins said.
Meares knocked out world and Olympic sprint champion Victoria Pendleton over three races in the semifinal and Krupeckaite overcame 500-meter time trial champion Olga Panarina to reach the final.
"Finally after 10 years as a senior rider I'm the world sprint queen, which is a great feeling," Meares said.
Pendleton beat Panarina in two races to take the bronze medal.
Meares said beating multiple world sprint champion Pendleton in the semifinals was almost like winning the gold.
"I looked at that race as if it was my final," Meares said.
But she still had to get past Krupeckaite for her first sprint title, including muscling past the Lithuanian in the second race.
"I just had to make my own path and unfortunately she was in the way," Meares said. "I just had to use the elbow to move her a little bit and then it was just go for broke."
Freiberg won the scratch race and then finished sixth in the 1-kilometer time trial, the final race of the omnium, to win the overall event.
Freiberg's friend and rival, Shane Archbold of New Zealand, won the time trial to secure second place and Gijs van Hoecke of Belgium was third.
Vos finally gave the partisan Dutch crowd at the Omnisport velodrome something to cheer about by winning the mass-start scratch race for the first Dutch title of the championships.
"You can only dream about a race like that," she said. "In my home country with the crowd cheering me on, I wanted to put on a show and it's great if you can finish with a world title."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press