RACER: Australian cyclist Kelland O'Brien at the Track Cycling World Championships in Hong Kong.
RACER: Australian cyclist Kelland O'Brien at the Track Cycling World Championships in Hong Kong. ALEX HOFFORD

Riders in pursuit of gold on day one of Games

CYCLING: A trio of riders from the Sunshine Coast-based Australian Cycling Academy are primed to deliver for Australia in Thursday's team pursuit at the Commonwealth Games, according to former track star Ben Kersten.

He expects Sam Welsford, Leigh Howard and Kelland O'Brien to play their part in the 4000m event at the Anna Meares Velodrome, with qualifying in the afternoon and finals at night.

The managing director of ACA and 2006 kilo gold medallist said they're ready to fly.

"They went to New Zealand to race World Cup earlier this year and set a blistering time (with the team)," he said.

"Leigh Howard, coming from the road (racing scene) back to the track, we were sort of wondering how the speed was in his legs after years away but he's done amazing times in the team pursuit so he's shown he's still got it."

They've also been in the thick of the action in races across the country, impressing in scratch races, madison and point score races.

"They're in fantastic form," Kersten said.

Officials are yet to officially announce who among the seven-strong Australian men's squad will compete in four-man qualifying and finals but Kersten believed the ACA riders would see some time on track.

"There's a very high chance all three will be racing," he said

"They're in very good form and they've done the times this year to put them in that starting squad."

Howard, 28, has age on his side but even Welsford, 22, and O'Brien, 19, have some experience.

Kersten expected the pair to be calm, having already competed at international meets.

The duo were part of Australia's world championship-winning team pursuit squad in Hong Kong last year.


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