Sam Welsford has won the national individual pursuit cycling championships.Olympic silver medallist Sam Welsford may have got the better of the reigning world champion but he still rates Jordan Kerby as the pursuit master and a key addition as chases team pursuit gold in Tokyo.
The 22-year-old Welsford lit up Anna Meares Velodrome at the track nationals on Friday night, holding off Kerby to win the 4km individual pursuit in 4:14.189, 3.92 seconds clear of the Brisbane-based crowd favourite.
Kelland O’Brien, who won bronze in the world championships behind Kerby last year, won the battle for bronze against former Madison and omnium world champion Leigh Howard.
Welsford’s team pursuit silver in Rio was one of just two medals for in a disappointing track cycling campaign.
Kerby watched those Olympics from the couch and, aware that he was set to lose his road racing contract, thought it was worth another crack.
The Hervey Bay product snuck into the world championship squad with a surprise win in last year’s national titles and then chalked up the third-fastest individual pursuit time in history on his way to world championship gold in Hong Kong.
If selected for the Commonwealth Games as expected, the pair will present a strong case for gold and silver in the same event on the same track in April.
And while the individual pursuit isn’t raced in the Olympics, Kerby’s prowess is seen by Welsford as critical as they chase team gold in 2020.
“He’s phenomenal to come back after what he’s done on the road straight back on the track … he’s still the master and I’m the apprentice,” Welsford said of the 25-year-old.
“The crew we have going forward, we’re going to do something special at Commonwealth Games and Tokyo because we have so much depth coming through, even younger guys than me pushing some insane times.”
Ashlee Ankudinoff won the women’s 3km individual pursuit title, stopping the clock at 3:31.064 and just .9 seconds ahead of Amy Cure.
Two-time individual pursuit world champion Rebecca Wiasak easily won the bronze medal race from Georgia Baker as she continues to recover from a horror crash just last month.
Earlier, Kaarle McCulloch took the bragging rights against team sprint partner Stephanie Morton, winning the time trial in the third-quickest time of her career.
The three-time world champion clocked 34.064 seconds over 500m to beat Morton (34.281), who won the silver four years ago in Glasgow.
The pair were more than half-a-second quicker than the rest of the field.
McCulloch won silver in Thursday’s team sprint, with the time trial victory the 30-year-old’s 13th national crown.