By Tom Degun

Michael GallagherDecember 23 - Australia have named a 13-strong line-up for the 2012 UCI Para-cycling World Championships in Los Angeles, with defending pursuit world champion and world record holder Michael Gallagher likely to lead the team's medal charge in America.

The 33-year-old Beijing 2008 Paralympic bronze medallist, who was born in Scotland but now lives in Melbourne, is one of four defending world champions in a talented Australian line up aiming for success in the three-day event which takes place from February 9 until 12.

Cycling Australia's Para-cycling performance director Peter Day says the event is of particular importance for his team as it offers qualification spots for London 2012.

"These championships are very important for Australia in terms of qualifying points to secure starting places for Australia at the Paralympic Games and a major milestone for Games contenders," said Day.

"Riders who medal will certainly have a stronger chance of gaining selection for London 2012."

Day continued that whilst medals are an obvious goal for the team, the primary objective is improvement for his riders heading into the Paralympic Games.

"It's great to win or finish with a medal but it's also crucial that athletes hoping to race in London demonstrate improvement when they race in Los Angeles," he said.

"The team selection was finalised during last week's Para-cycling track nationals in Melbourne.

"Whilst there were several good performances in Melbourne there were also a few athletes who didn't back up on their recent performances at Oceania or state competitions.

"Some of those were more technical issues and that gives us something to work on during our preparation for the World Championships."

As well as Gallagher, Felicity Johnson, Susan Powell and Kerry Knowler will also be defending their world titles in Australia.

Youngsters Simone Kennedy, David Nicholas, Jayme Paris-Richardson, Alexandra Green, Bryce Lindores and Stephanie Morton will be looking to make an impact ahead of London 2012 while veterans Claire McLean, Brandie O'Connor, Matt Formston complete the team.

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