Following in the footsteps of an echo-chamber championship in Minsk, Belarus, Colombia can hold its head high for what was a well-supported and highly entertaining UCI Track World Championships in Cali. Midway through the Olympic cycle it was also a key battleground for potential Rio candidates, and for those heading to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, a dry-run for July.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

So who were the winners and losers, and what have we learned from 2014 UCI Track World Championships?

Kristina Vogel is the fastest woman in the world
It's official. The 23 year old, just 5'3", packs a punch, and she's been ravenous at these championships. Helped by a rapid Miriam Welte, Vogel took team sprint gold number three to break the ice before cruising through to the finals of the individual sprint, Saturday. There she was equal parts speed and sprint craft. The ride for gold against China's Tianshi Zhong a masterclass. Even as Zhong forced Vogel to the front in the final heat with a lengthy track stand, the German shrugged off any perceived disadvantage by holding her speed better in the final 250 metres to win by a bike-length.

But it was the final day of competition, the Keirin, where Vogel was most impressive. The German had fourth wheel, behind two former world champions Anna Meares and Britain's Becky James. One has done it all, the other, billed as her heir apparent. The German was unfazed. While her rivals stopped and started their accelerations, Vogel was smooth.

There was a moment when Meares and Vogel fought for position as the final lap loomed. Meares had the faster inside line, and Vogel had it all to do. It would've lasted only a second but the battle of wills between the two was brilliant. One had to relent. Gold or silver. Meares or Vogel. But the German was not going to be beaten. Not this time. A centimetre then a half-bike length, then finally, she edged in front, took the lead and the inside line, and with it the world championship.



Now a five-time world champion, Vogel has a long way to go to eclipse Meares, but she must be odds-on, with two more years of competition under her belt, to take gold in Rio.

The Australian Team Pursuit dynasty continues
Australia remains on top of the world, at least where the men's team pursuit is concerned. Since 2002, the team has only once missed the podium, in 2007, and eight times won the world title. Incredibly, it's only won a single Olympic title in that period, in Athens way back in 2004, a ledger I'm sure it will want to change in two years time in Rio.

But for the interim, it's worth dwelling on the production line of pursuit talent Australia has produced and continues to produce. Bradley McGee, Luke Roberts, Brett Lancaster, Matt Goss, Luke Durbridge, Rohan Dennis have all been world champions in the pursuit; while there's no shortage of young stars coming through, not least Alexander Edmondson, who also helped himself to the Individual Pursuit title in Cali to boot.

The consistency of Australia's endurance track program is laudable, but retaining that talent, and keeping the team motivated all the way to the Olympic Games in Rio will prove a challenge. Edmondson, one of the youngest of the 2014 World Championship winning team needs to be there. Meanwhile Miles Scotson, Alex Morgan, Luke Davison, Glenn O'Shea, Mitchell Mulhern are all in the hunt. That composition needs to be cemented, and honed to maximise the chances of Olympic gold in two years time. Eye on the prize.

British slip
It would be harsh to suggest the 2014 Champs have been a failure on the British behalf, but they have certainly shown vulnerability after the best part of half a decade of dominance. The men's team pursuit was disastrous, with an experimental line-up failing to qualify for the medals, while the departure of the ever-consistent Victoria Pendleton has still not been plugged despite promising performances from Jess Varnish and Becky James.

Perhaps more surprising was the lack of fire from Britain's Jason Kenny, who missed medals in the Keirin and Sprint to a Francois Pervis blitz. Still, five medals is nothing to sneeze at, the women's endurance team continued its golden run, and if this was thee only 'off performance' as a squad on the road to Rio, there's very little to worry about. Victims of their own success, we've come to, perhaps unfairly, expect far more. On to Glasgow!

Edwin Avila's Points Race (and while we're at it, what about Amy Cure?)
If the Colombian fans needed an icon of this Championship, Avila would have to be it. The pint size 24 year old is probably half the man of New Zealand's Tom Scully, who took silver, but was undaunted in taking three laps in thrilling fashion, and the gold medal. The second of the three laps was done solo in a lapse in pace by the peloton as the Colombian, willed on by a very partisan crowd left his mark on the race. It was reminiscent of Cameron Meyer's last lap wonder in Melbourne two years ago, dramatic to the last.

And then there was Cure, who in my highlight of the championship was embraced by the full women's endurance team immediately after the race. Annette Edmondson's spirited congratulations of the young Tasmanian is an image that will love long in the mind.

Omnium woes
Now I'm not the first to say this, but I'm tiring of the omnium, quickly. It's a race that should reward consistency but is incredibly prone to misfortune. Telling is the fact that in eight editions for the men we've yet to see a world champion double up. A bad result in just one of the bunch races can end your podium hopes even if you're far and away the best tester. And sure, that's sport, but an event that is overly prone to the dice-roll, I don't believe, makes for good competition.

I honestly don't understand why the UCI does not simply lobby to reintroduce the points and eliminations races to the Olympic program. Both are glue-yourself-to-your-seat watching. They're better races, and far less complicated. Having said that, Sarah Hammer won the women's omnium with dominant rides across the whole suite of events, while the boyish Thomas Boudat was also consistently near the pointy-end across the six events in the men. So, maybe the race is getting figured out. Maybe. Still not convinced.

A final thought...
Every time the world's best track cyclists meet for a world championship, I'm left wondering how this sport can be so entertaining, so nail-biting, and yet so very difficult to market effectively to a world falling over itself for short sharp bites of television entertainment. I have the same thought each and every year, and but for a depleted world cup circuit, there are almost no exhibitions of the sport's elite and no comprehensive campaign to raise the profile of the sport. Go figure. Until next year.