Grace Brown
Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner Grace Brown will lead the Australian women's road team at the Olympics. Image by EPA PHOTO
  • cycling

Australian track team head into unknown at Olympics

Roger Vaughan June 29, 2024

Grace Brown and the men’s team sprint will be the key medal hopes for Australian cycling on the road and track at the Paris Olympics.

Australia’s first cycling selections were announced on Saturday morning in Adelaide, with no major shocks but plenty of uncertainty about how the track team will perform in Paris.

The most recent world track championships were in Glasgow last August and no international competition has been held since earlier this year, meaning form is impossible to gauge.

But there is no doubt about Brown’s credentials. After finishing fourth in the road time trial at the Tokyo Olympics, she has taken silver in the discipline at the last two world championships.

Brown, who will retire at the end of this season, also showed her potential for the Olympic road race earlier this year by winning the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic.

Anna Meares announces Australia's Paris 2024 cycling team.
 Chef de mission, and Australian cycling legend, Anna Meares at the team announcement on Saturday. Image by Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS 

The track events have long been a key Olympic focus for Australia, but Tokyo three years ago was a disaster.

One bronze medal in the men’s team pursuit was Australia’s worst total at the velodrome since the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

The campaign was marred by Alex Porter’s face plant in men’s team pursuit qualifying when his handlebar snapped off at about 60km/h.

The national track program has undergone a restructure in the last three years and there is cautious optimism about improvement in Paris.

Matthew Glaetzer is back for his fourth Olympics and will combine with Matthew Richardson and Leigh Hoffman in the team sprint.

Australia won the world title two years ago and were runners-up last year to the Dutch, who dominate the men’s sprint events on the track.

Tom Cornish was the unlucky member of the Australian men’s sprint group to miss out on Olympic selection.

Matthew Glaetzer.
 Matthew Glaetzer has been named on his fourth Olympic team for Australia. Image by Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS 

Alex Manly and Georgia Baker also collected silver at the worlds last year in the women’s madison.

Another medal hope will be Michael Matthews in the men’s road race. He has a strong record of podium places at world road championships and he finished runner-up earlier this year at the Milan-Sanremo classic.

Matthews is riding at the Tour de France, which starts on Saturday night (AEST) and the three-week Grand Tour will show his form heading into the August 3 Olympic road race.

In-form Ruby Roseman-Gannon, who won the final stage of the Tour of Britain earlier this month, and Lauretta Hanson will support Brown in the August 4 road race.

Respected domestique Simon Clarke will be the men’s road team captain, with time-trial specialist Luke Plapp their third member.

The men’s and women’s road time trials will be held on July 27, with the track events from August 5-11.

Paris team chef de mission Anna Meares – one of Australian cycling’s all-time greats and a two-time Olympic gold medallist on the track – announced the selections at the Adelaide Superdrome.

“My excitement for this team is great, as are my hopes. It’s hard to not feel this way having dedicated 22 years myself to loving it,” Meares said.

“And I admit, it will be one sport I will find the hardest to watch.”

Matthew Glaetzer, Kristina Clonan, Matthew Richardson, Leigh Hoffman.
 Matthew Glaetzer, Kristina Clonan, Matthew Richardson and Leigh Hoffman at the team announcement. Image by Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS 


* Men’s road: Michael Matthews, Simon Clarke, Luke Plapp (also time trial)

* Women’s road: Grace Brown (also time trial), Ruby Roseman-Gannon, Lauretta Hanson

* Men’s track sprint: Matthew Glaetzer, Matthew Richardson, Leigh Hoffman

* Women’s track sprint: Kristina Clonan

* Men’s track endurance: Kelland O’Brien, Sam Welsford, Conor Leahy, Oliver Bleddyn

* Women’s track endurance: Georgia Baker, Alex Manly, Maeve Plouffe, Sophie Edwards, Chloe Moran