Kaarle McCulloch (file) has claimed 500m time trial gold at Brisbane’s track cycling nationals.Kaarle McCulloch will take the bragging rights into the Commonwealth Games time trial after beating her friend and rival Stephanie Morton for gold at the track cycling national titles in Brisbane.
The New South Wales product clocked 34.064 seconds over the 500m at the Anna Meares Velodrome.
Morton, a silver medallist in the event at Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games four years ago, finished second in 34.821 and more than half a second quicker than the rest of the field.
The pair, who collected world championships silver in the team sprint together last year, now both train in Adelaide and appear set to go head-to-head for Commonwealth Games gold in the time trial on the same track in April.
McCulloch won a team sprint gold and time trial silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and a silver at the 2012 London Olympics, but missed selection in 2014 at Glasgow and at the 2016 Rio Games.
But the three-time world champion’s performance on Friday proved she was far from a spent force.
“I was absolutely buggered, so to go this fast on this track especially has really given me a lot of confidence,” she said.
“I was really nervous going up against Steph … I get to train with her every day now and she’s smashing me in training.
“I’m chasing her as hard as I can and she’s being pushed by me; as a team and opponents we can push each other to the next level and it’s going to be an epic battle at the Commonwealth Games.
The niche event isn’t raced at the Olympics, meaning it drifts off the radar outside of the Commonwealth Games window.
It means, just like for men’s 1km time trial champion Matthew Glaetzer, one of her favourite events will be put on the backburner after April.
“This is the reason I started cycling, it’s absolutely amazing and it never gets tired,” she said.
“You always set that ultimate goal and that’s (Olympics) obviously the ultimate for me.
“Steph and I are chasing that gold medal in the team sprint and you look at that battle we’re having here, look at our training and we feel like we’ll be strong contenders.”