GB take superb team pursuit gold
UCI World Track Cycling Championships 2012
- Hisense Arena, Melbourne
- 4-8 April 2012
Great Britain’s team pursuit men won a spectacular gold medal at the World Track Cycling Championships as they beat Australia with a world record.
Ed Clancy, Pete Kennaugh, Steven Burke and Geraint Thomas clocked three minutes 53.295 seconds in Melbourne.
Jess Varnish and Victoria Pendleton finished fourth in the team sprint, while Philip Hindes, Jason Kenny and Sir Chris Hoy also missed out.
Britain had been due to race for bronze but were relegated for an infringement.
The trio had lost out to Germany in qualifying but both teams were later judged to have made illegal changes between riders. Australia went on to take their first gold in the men’s team sprint since 1996, ahead of France.
“We looked at the video and we’ve got nothing to argue about, it was a very small mistake by Phil,” Hoy told BBC Sport. “He did a great ride, to have done a 17.5 in his first championship.
“He’s disappointed but he shouldn’t feel the responsibility – experienced teams like the Germans have been relegated as well. It shouldn’t happen but we’ve won and lost championships by thousandths of a second. If you get it slightly wrong then you’re out and that’s what happened tonight.
“Having said that, that’s the first time in 16 years of competing that I’ve been in a team that’s been relegated. This will all be forgotten if it goes well in London, but this is still a world championships and it would’ve been nice to at least challenge for the podium in the second ride.”
There was better news for the British team when Ben Swift won their second gold on the night in the non-Olympic men’s scratch event.
Varnish and Pendleton had earlier lost to Australia’s Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch in qualifying for the women’s team sprint and were then edged out by China’s Gong Jinjie and Guo Shuang for a medal.
Germany’s Miriam Welte and Kristina Vogel broke the Britons’ world record on their way to taking gold.
“Welte and Kristina Vogel have both been performing at a high level for a number of years,” said Pendleton. “To be honest, it’s not surprising they’ve managed to suddenly find their form and get it together. Tonight was really their night.
“We can’t be disappointed with our ride – they just rode an exceptional race tonight. We’re not rolling over yet but tonight was their night.
“We’re only talking a couple of tenths or so, it’s not a massive amount of time, and we’ve got a lot more to come in terms of fine-tuning our performance. What we’ve done already has been a massive achievement and more than I expected, really.”
The British men’s pursuit team confirmed the suggestion from qualifying that they have made up ground on the formidable Australian line-up in the two months since Glenn O’Shea, Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis and Michael Hepburn beat them in London.
Burke replaced Andy Tennant for the final in a change from the team that qualified fastest earlier on Wednesday, and after the lead changed hands several times it was the British quartet that powered away in the closing stages.
Favourites Australia were close behind, finishing in 3:53.401 for silver.
“That’s the best race I’ve had,” Clancy told BBC Sport.
“It’s the ones you really have to fight hard for that you remember, and we won’t forget that one. We got into that last lap and I’d already given it everything, I was just a passenger – I thought, ‘Oh man, I’m going to lose it all here.’ Thankfully, it was just enough.”
Their time beat the previous world record set when Britain won Olympic gold in Beijing four years ago, and brought them a first world title in the event since 2008.
“It definitely makes up for London, that’s for sure,” said Thomas. “We’re really looking forward now, London 2012 is massive. [Here in the velodrome] the crowd would go nuts for a lap, then go quiet, and I was like, ‘I think we’re up now.’
“We had a strategy, we pushed it to the edge and we had enough of a buffer to hold on. It’s a great, great feeling.”
Manx rider Kennaugh said: “To come to Australia and beat the Aussies on their home turf make it even better.
“I am lost for words really. I have been wanting this for the last four years and it has never quite happened. That was the hardest team pursuit I have ever done.
“In London we didn’t quite have it and we said we would always get better at the Worlds and the Olympics. We broke the world record there but I think there is still a lot more to come.”