WOODLANDS cyclist Sam Welsford (20) is through to the medals round of the 4000m team pursuit after the four-member Australian squad recorded the third-fastest time at the Rio Olympics velodrome at the about 5am (WST) this morning.
The Australians were the only team respected by gold-medal contenders and reigning Olympic champions Great Britain, whose team reportedly broke the world record during pre-games training.
Australia was the last team to ride out of nine squads, and faced a fast time from Great Britain and an equally quick time from second-placed Denmark.
Welsford was selected for the team after winning the 4000m individual pursuit at the National Championships earlier this year.
He was the team’s fourth man, starting on the far outside.
The Australians’ target was the 1:51:94 set by the British, which was just 0.3 of a second outside the world record.
At 1750m the Australians were just 0.7 seconds off the Brits’ time, and behind the Danes at 3km, but a sprint to the finish meant they held third place with 3:55:066.
The Australians will now ride against the Danes in medal selection, from 3am tomorrow.
Only the Netherlands failed to qualify, after one of its riders clipped a teammates’ wheel and fell heavily on their last lap.
The crash caused a delay while officials used tape to repair the wooden track.
New Zealand recorded the fourth-fastest time, and joined China, unfancied Germany, and Switzerland in the medals round.