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Meares to lead Australian cycling assault on Rio

UCI World Track Cycling Championships - London, Britain - 6/3/2016 - Stephanie Morton (L) of Australia congratulates compatriot Anna Meares after she defeated her to qualify for the women's sprint semi-fianls. REUTERS/Andrew Winning
UCI World Track Cycling Championships - London, Britain - 6/3/2016 - Stephanie Morton (L) of Australia congratulates compatriot Anna Meares after she defeated her to qualify for the women's sprint semi-fianls. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Double Olympic champion Anna Meares will lead Australia's track cycling assault at the Rio de Janeiro Games where she will bid to defend her sprint gold and win the team title with Stephanie Morton.

Morton edged out Kaarle McCulloch, who took bronze with Meares in the team sprint at London, in the 16-member track team announced in Adelaide on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old cycling great Meares will also bid for a maiden Olympic gold in the keirin, an event she has won three times at world championships.

"It’s a really nice feeling to make it to my fourth Games,” the 11-times world champion said in a media release.

“It was the one event I wanted to make after London and although it’s been a long road I know the next few weeks leading into Rio are going to fly by.

"I think I’ll be going to Rio in the best physical form I have ever been in my career and I’m ready to do my absolute best for this team and my country."

Former individual sprint world champion Matthew Glaetzer will compete in all three of the men's sprints at Rio, with rising talent Pat Constable and Nathan Hart joining him in the team sprint.

The 21-year-old Constable will also compete in the keirin.

Twice world champion Annette Edmondson, who won an omnium bronze at London, will lead the women's team pursuit.

Edmondson, alongside fellow Rio Olympians Ashlee Ankudinoff, Melissa Hoskins and Amy Cure, was a part of the outfit that set a 4,000m team pursuit record at the world championships in France last year.

"The goal is to go out there and win the gold in Rio and we won’t be satisfied with anything less," said Edmondson who will also compete in the omnium at Rio.

Australia brought a strong team to the London Velopark four years ago but emerged with only Meares' solitary gold as Olympic hosts Britain won seven out of the 10 titles.

The Australian Olympic Committee expects the cycling team to capture three golds at Rio.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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