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Glaetzer primed to defend sprint crown

Tourism

Australian cyclist Matthew Glaetzer says he is on track to become the first rider in nine years to defend his Men’s Sprint Title at the 2019 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Poland this month.

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Glaetzer has been in sizzling form with three gold and a silver from four World Cup Sprint events this season since claiming his first World Title in the Netherlands last year.

The 26-year-old also set the sea level record in the Kilometre Time Trial at last year’s Commonwealth Games, stopping the clock at 59.340 seconds.

However, he will not compete in the Kilometre TT at the World Championships in Poland instead focusing on the Keirin and his Sprint title defence. He is also unlikely to ride in the Team Sprint with Australia planning to use the opportunity to build depth in its squad.

Glaetzer is due to fly out with the Australian team tonight to allow a full week of preparation ahead of the February 27 – March 3 titles in Pruszkow.

No rider has successfully defended the Men’s Sprint World Championship since Frenchman Gregory Bauge in 2010. An Australian has not won consecutive sprint titles since John Nicholson in 1976.

“It’s the big-ticket sprint event – the 100m final of the track cycling world – so it’s not going to be easy, as history has shown, but it’s definitely a challenge that I’m going full steam ahead to achieve,” Glaetzer said.

“Everyone knows there are six guys who can win it each year but to have one up on those guys is important, psychologically as well.

Matthew Glaetzer will miss the Kilometre TT at the 2019 Track Cycling World Championships. Picture: Kevin Anderson.

“It’s an interesting game because the more you win, the more you are expected to win and the more the pressure mounts. I’m now the guy who is hunted a little more rather than me hunting others so it’s a new challenge and I’m enjoying stretching myself in new ways.”

Glaetzer said the scheduling of the Kilometre TT on day three of the five-day championships immediately before the Sprint coupled with the fact it is not an Olympic event meant he would not be competing in it.

“This year it’s actually the day before the sprint competition, which is the biggest event for me, so we had to make that tough call,” he said.

“It’s an event that can hurt you pretty bad so even though I’m probably in the top two or three riders in the world, it’s something that I’ll have to miss to make sure the Olympic event has priority.

“It’s a shame – because it’s a great Hail Mary event and when it’s on the final day all the big hitters can have a crack at it and it’s a true world title.”

Australian teammate Stephanie Morton will be looking to go one better in the Women’s Sprint after claiming Silver behind Germany’s Kristina Vogel the past two championships.

Like Glaetzer, Morton is from Adelaide, South Australia, which is also where the national track cycling team is based.

South Australian sprinters Matthew Glaetzer and Stephanie Morton will be hunting gold at this month’s Track Cycling World Championships in Poland.

Glaetzer said Morton and the Men’s Team Pursuit riders had been flying in training.

“Steph Morton is an incredible athlete,” he said of his teammate.

“Just the times she is putting down in heavy training through the World Cup season is near mind-blowing.

“This year at the worlds I think we’ve got a really strong well-rounded team in sprints and endurance so it’s going to be exciting to see what sort of results come out of Poland.”

Glaetzer said the World Championships the year before the Olympics were always hotly contested and usually provided an indication of things to come.

“It’s a good form guide for us and a good stepping stone towards the Tokyo Olympics next year.

“If I can clinch the gold again it’ll be a sign and a showing of strength to the world that I’m here to stay and that I’m gunning for the gold in Tokyo.”

In late March, Glaetzer will head to Japan for three months to race in the Keirin series for the second time alongside fellow Australian sprinter Shane Perkins.

“That Japanese contract is a blessing to be able to live there for a significant amount of time and train on the Olympic track is quite a good advantage,” he said.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to have a bit of fun and by the time I go back to Tokyo for the Olympic Games it will feel like going back to my second home so it’s a great bonus to be able to race over there.”

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