Copyright Casey Gibson

Reigning world champions Australia kick started its men’s team pursuit title defense with a scorching near-world record ride in the afternoon’s qualifying session.

Coach Tim Decker’s opening line-up boasted no shortage of rainbow jerseys, with reigning world champions Sam Welsford (WA) and Alex Porter (SA), teaming with 2010 world champion Cameron Meyer (WA) and eighteen-year-old debutant Kelland O’Brien (VIC), a junior world champion in the event in 2015.

Pitted against fierce rivals Great Britain in the ninth and final heat – a rematch of both the 2016 Olympic Games and World Championships finals where the teams shared the spoils – the new look Australian quartet bolted from the gates and straight onto world record pace after the first kilometre.

The Australians were relentless over the second half, reeling in their British opponents inside the final few hundred metres, before sending a ripple through the team pits as they stormed to an intimidating time of 3mins 50.577secs.

The team’s time – just .312 outside of Great Britain’s world record set at Rio 2016 Games – made even more astounding considering they were forced to overtake their opponents with two laps to go.

In the evening’s first round ride against France, debutant Rohan Wight (SA) took his place in the line up for Meyer with immediate affect.  The team’s considered ride of 3mins 54.125secs was a personal best for former junior world champion, while importantly stamping the team’s ticket to the gold medal ride.

The final will be a trans-Tasman affair New Zealand recording times of 3mins 53.422secs and 3mins 54.363secs on the day to progress to the final.

Earlier in the day, Australia’s women’s team pursuiters were the first to hit the Hong Kong track and the first to show off more than just a shiny new skinsuit.

2015 world champions Ashlee Ankudinoff (NSW) and Amy Cure (TAS), plus reigning individual pursuit world champion Rebecca Wiasak (ACT) and debutant Alexandra Manly (SA) proved their prowess as a new formation as they recorded the second fastest qualifying time in the women’s event.

The quartet covered the 16 laps of the Hong Kong Velodrome in a smooth and measured time of 4mins 18.659secs – the fastest of the day until reigning world champions the USA took bragging rights by less than a second (4:17.722) in the final heat.

The women’s competition continues on Thursday with Australia to face Canada in the first round, with the winner will face the either fastest qualifiers USA (4:17.722) or fourth-fastest Italy (4:19.838) for the gold and silver medals.