Battle of the 'Brads' could light up velodrome
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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Battle of the 'Brads' could light up velodrome

by Agence France-Presse at 5:52 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Track
Bradley McGee is hoping to put a silver lining around yet another injury-hit season when he saddles up with Olympic medals - not history - on his mind at the Laoshan velodrome on Friday.

But as he aims to qualify for the men's individual pursuit with one eye on going better than his Athens silver medal Saturday, the precence of Bradley Wiggins will be of more concern than a 104-year-old track record.

With one gold, a silver and three bronze from his previous three Olympics, McGee will begin his fourth Games as one of Australia's best chances for a medal.

But although needing just one more to pull level with Burton Downing's record six-medal haul - which the American cyclist secured at the Saint Louis Games in 1904 - McGee is keeping his aims simple.

"I've never walked into an Olympic Games with any expectations for. All I ever want to do is perform in a manner I can," said McGee, who was unaware he was on the cusp of equalling any Olympic track records. "I don't know what history is going to be when the Games are finished. We will just have to see what the world will have."

Another Bradley, Britain's reigning Olympic and world champion Wiggins, is the man expected to set the pace in the 16-lap, 4km event whose final is one of the highlights on Saturday.

But it remains to be seen how the 27-year-old Londoner, who claimed gold, silver and bronze in Athens and is already Britain's most decorated Olympic cyclist, rebounds from a recent setback.

British team staff has said that Wiggins suffered a virus just prior to the Games. But as they put the final touches to their aim for several gold over the five-day, ten-event competition, they have insisted he is fine.

The fact McGee missed some training time due to a crash on the road, leading to a broken collarbone, in May was initially a worry for Australia's track team bosses. But McGee said he has never been on form going into the Games. And above all, he is itching to get racing.

"I've never entered an Olympic Games 100 percent," he added. "I have been ready for the Olympics for the past two weeks now. Especially now that I'm out here on this track. I am ready to get it going."

To have any chance of qualifying for the final of the individual pursuit, the riders will need to post times in the region of, or faster than 4min 20sec.

Wiggins beat promising young Dutchman Jenning Huizenga to win the world title in a time of 4:18.519 while Russian Alexei Markov posted 4:21.097 when he beat New Zealander Hayden Roulston to the championships' bronze.

American eyes meanwhile will be on 18-year-old sensation Taylor Phinney, who comes into his first Olympics having exploded on to the scene 10 months ago and who has since become the national champion.

Phinney comes from some admirable cycling stock. His mother Connie Carpenter won gold in the women's road race in 1984 while his father Davis Phinney is an Olympic bronze medallist in the 1984 time trial and one of only 10 Americans to win a stage on the Tour de France.

In contrast to the world championships, where the fastest two qualifying times go straight to the final, the Olympic individual pursuit features a first round then a final.

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