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London calling in Oz clash

THe London summer Olympics will cast a long shadow over this week's cycling world championships in Australia.

They are a final opportunity for riders to qualify for the Games but all the riders will have planned their training schedules so they will peak for July, and many will under-perform, at least comparatively, Down Under.

"I'm not sure how much of a marker the world championships will be," says Craig MacLean, the Commonwealth gold medallist and twice silver medallist in the team sprint at the world championships.

"There's still a long way to the Games, people are aiming to peak in London. So it could be that they are going into the worlds having done a mini-taper, and we might not see the best of them.

"There are very few people who have won the worlds and then gone on to win the Olympics, but you'd rather be closer to the podium than further away from it.

"While it will be good for morale to do well, that can be a double-edged sword, because there might then be a tendency to become a little bit complacent."

Having watched the British team perform well at the London World Cup event last month, MacLean believes the riders are capable of building on the success of the Beijing Olympics, where they won 14 medals – eight gold, four silver and two bronze.

MacLean won silver alongside Sir Chris Hoy in the team sprint at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and he identifies his former partner, who is competing in Australia, as a natural leader.

Hoy's experience and ability to perform at the critical moment will be vital for the British team.

MacLean says: "He's the best athlete I've ever seen. If he's performing well, a lot of his team-mates will take confidence from that."

"It's going to be very difficult to reproduce the haul from Beijing, just because they took so many unexpectedly.

"But I don't think guys like Chris will feel the pressure, they'll use the crowd to their advantage."

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