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Paris track cycling preparations to ramp up in Adelaide

Australia's track cyclists will gain a marker on how their Paris Olympic preparations are going when they compete at the Track Nations Cup round in Adelaide.


Australia's Georgia Baker celebrates after winning during the Women's 25km Points Race Finals at Lee Valley VeloPark on day three of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in London, Sunday July 31, 2022. Image AAP

Georgia Baker and her Australian track cycling teammates are about to have a much clearer picture of where they stand in their Paris Olympics preparations.


The February 2-4 Track Nations Cup at Adelaide's Super-Drome is the first significant international event for many of the Australians since the August world championships in Glasgow.


It is the first of three rounds of the Cup where countries can qualify berths for the Paris Games.


Australia's disastrous Tokyo Olympics at the velodrome shattered the assumption that the track cycling events are a guaranteed source of Olympic medals.


The busted handlebar in the men's team pursuit qualifying became the symbol of a campaign that yielded only one bronze medal - the worst Australian medal haul in track cycling at an Olympics since 1980.


Australia's track program has since undergone wide-ranging changes, and the results at the Glasgow worlds last year were encouraging.


Among the Olympic events, Baker and Alex Manly won silver in the madison, the men's team sprint lost their final to the Dutch by a whisker, and Matthew Richardson was also runner-up in the keirin.


Baker has ridden at the past two Olympics and won three gold medals at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, two of them on the track.


She will ride the madison, team pursuit and omnium in Adelaide, and is confident of what can be achieved in Paris.


"I'm definitely going for the gold medal. I know there's only so many that you can win ... but realistically we have what it takes," Baker said.


"We have been a bit off the mark, the last couple of cycles. This year, though, we have good momentum within the team.


"We've learned a lot from the past Olympic cycles. Now we're showing a really good step forward, that we know what to do and preparation we need."


One disappointment for Adelaide is that the powerful Dutch men's sprint squad won't be there.


But the event has attracted some big international names, including Italian Filippo Ganna, Great Britain's Katie Archibald and American Jennifer Valente - all gold medallists three years ago at the Olympics velodrome.


Australian Leigh Hoffman was in the team sprint combination that finished second to the Dutch at the worlds last year, and beat them the previous year.


"It would have been good for them (their Dutch rivals) to be here, to get a little bit of a benchmark, but ... you're riding against the clock, not the other team," Hoffman said.


"So on the day if we can do the quickest time possible, that's the best possible scenario."


Friday night's opening medal session will feature the finals of four Olympic events - the men's and women's team sprints, plus the men's and women's team pursuits.


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