Aussie men nudge team pursuit cycling WR

Australia's men's pursuit team have fallen just shy of breaking their own world record in Brisbane.
Australia's men's pursuit team have fallen just shy of breaking their own world record in Brisbane.

The world record has been threatened not once but twice after Australia and New Zealand had set a cracking pace ahead of Friday night's men's team pursuit final at the World Cup track cycling round in Brisbane.

And the world champion Australian women's team pursuit outfit impressed as well, setting the fastest time of the day to set up a gold-medal race - also against the Kiwis.

The New Zealand men initially looked set to re-write the record books on the opening afternoon of the three-day meet when they set a blistering three minutes, 48.24 seconds in their first-round heat.

It was just 0.23 of a second shy of the world record, set by Australia in February when they claimed world titles gold.

Yet Australia threatened to upstage the Kiwis in the following heat at Anna Meares Velodrome.

In the end, they not only fell agonisingly short of their own world record, they also failed to reel in New Zealand's time, finishing just 0.04 of a second behind their rivals.

Members of Australia's world champion combination - Sam Welsford, Leigh Howard and Kelland O'Brien - and 18-year-old Lucas Plapp clocked three minutes 48.28 seconds.

Both teams expect to go faster on Friday night when they face off for gold, ensuring the world record will be in danger again.

The Australian men are out to make a statement ahead of the Tokyo Olympics after settling for team pursuit silver at last weekend's World Cup round in Cambridge, New Zealand.

The Brisbane round is the Australian team's final chance to race on home soil before February's world titles and offers qualifying points for the Tokyo Games.

The Australian women's team pursuit combination threatened the national record while booking a gold medal race with the Kiwis.

Rising star Maeve Plouffe, 20, joined members of 2019 world champion outfit, Georgia Baker, Annette Edmondson and Alexandra Manly, to clock 4:12.88 in their first-round heat.

It was just 0.42 of a second off the national record they set at last round's World Cup round.

After qualifying fastest, New Zealand clocked 4:13.94 in their opening-round heat.

The opening night action will also feature men's and women's team sprint finals.

The Australian track cycling team are out to bounce back from the last round in New Zealand where they finished second overall on the medal table behind the hosts with eight medals but just one gold.

The 18-strong Australian outfit features 10 reigning world champions and eight Olympians.

Australian Associated Press