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Aussie men’s sprint team ends Dutch domination at world track cycling titles

Evergreen cycling maestro Matt Glaetzer has led the Australian men’s sprint team to glory at the world track championships — and put an end to a golden era of Dutch domination in the process.

Glaetzer capitalised on the dazzling work of Leigh Hoffman and Matt Richardson to edge Wednesday’s final against an all-conquering Olympic-winning Dutch trio who’d won the previous three titles.

And in the Quentin-en-Yvelines Velodrome, just outside Paris, which will stage the 2024 Olympic Games cycling, Glaetzer and his young teammates — including Tom Cornish, superb in the qualifying round — gave a tantalising glimpse of an exciting future.

For while Adelaide’s Glaetzer was roaring to his third global title, it was the first Aussie team sprint crown for the first time in a decade.

Glaetzer, now 30, was in that 2012 Melbourne team and now as the self-styled “old dog” of Australia’s 15-strong team he was quite as inspirational, just holding on to win by the merest margin — 0.043 seconds as he crossed the line in 41.600.

It was celebration time for Matthew Glaetzer after he brought the Australians home to win the men’s team sprint by 43 thousandths of a second.(AP: Christophe Ena)

But Glaetzer would be the first to doff his cap to his young teammates, with 22-year-old Hoffman brilliant on the first lap and 23-year-old Commonwealth sprint champ Richardson then maintaining a significant advantage for his final third-lap push.

Cornish, 22, had earlier understudied outstandingly for Glaetzer as the Aussies finished quickest in qualifying, before the team that took Commonwealth Games gold in August joined forces for the first round and final.

In the final, South Australian Hoffman opened up a half-second lead after the blistering 16.949sec first lap, with Richardson giving Glaetzer a 0.31sec advantage to protect on the last circuit.

Roy van den Berg, who’d dominated the Olympics and three previous worlds with Jeffrey Hoogland and Harrie Lavreysen, just couldn’t claw back the deficit as Glaetzer capped a glorious return to his best after injury woes and an inspirational battle to overcome thyroid cancer.

On an excellent opening day, the Australian men’s pursuit team made amends for a disappointing qualifying outing, in which they finished sixth, to rally and earn a spot in Thursday’s bronze medal race with Denmark.

There’d been disappointment for the quartet of Conor Leahy, Kelland O’Brien, Joshua Duffy and Sam Welsford when they qualified in only three minutes 50.344 seconds, ruling out any prospect of fighting for the gold on Thursday.

But with James Moriarty replacing Duffy in the first round, the improvement was striking as they made the bronze showdown as fourth fastest in 3:48.773.

Australia’s women pursuit quartet will also be battling for the podium, after the Commonwealth champions finished fourth in qualifying to set up a semi-final ride.

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