Britain storm to world team pursuit gold
Wed, 04 Apr 13:38:00 2012
Great Britain issued the most uncompromising statement of London 2012 intent by taking World Championship men's team pursuit gold in a world record time in Melbourne – upstaging hosts Australia in the process.
The GB quartet of Edward Clancy, Steven Burke, Peter Kennaugh and Geraint Thomas had hinted at the form they were in by recording the third-fastest time in history in qualifying but they took it up to another level in the final.
After having to settle for silver in the London World Cup – finishing over two and half seconds down on their Australian rivals – the GB squad were in imperious form on their way to a world record time of three minutes 53.295 seconds.
Things then got even better for Britain in the first day of the competition as Ben Swift won gold in the men's scratch race.
Australia did eventually claim their first gold of the tournament by beating France in the men's team sprint final by just one thousandth of a second.
Burke replaced Andy Tennant in the GB four for the final of the team pursuit but the victory was built around Beijing Olympic gold medallist Clancy who produced a monumental effort early on to set the tone for the win.
Despite Clancy’s early effort it was neck and neck at the halfway point with just 0.069 seconds separating the teams, however thereafter the GB quartet showed their class, opening up a 0.8 second lead heading into the final 500m.
The hosts came back in those closing stages but it wasn’t enough to stop the GB quartet taking their fourth ever World Championship team pursuit gold.
2012 UCI Track World Champ
"I finished the whole last lap off the back and I was almost expecting the worst. I looked at the scoreboard and thought 'Oh man, I'm going to lose it on me!'" Clancy told reporters.
"We knew it would be close and we didn't know which way it was going to go... Then I saw on the scoreboard and I kind of noticed the crowd was a little bit quieter than they had been and I thought: 'Ah, it's looking good' Then it kind of sank in."
New Zealand took bronze, edging out Russia to complete the podium, but the GB squad ensured day one belonged to them after upstaging the hosts in their back yard.
Swift claimed a second British gold of the day by winning the men's scratch race.
The 24-year-old beat South Africa's Nolan Hoffman and Netherlands' Wim Stroetinga into second and third respectively to take the title.
The Rotherham rider completed the 15 kilometres in 17:56, sprinting to the front in the closing moments to take the gold.
Australia registered their first gold in the final race of the day, the men's team sprint final.
The host's trio of Shane Perkins, Scott Sunderland and Matthew Glaetzer were only fourth fastest originally but, after Britain, USA and Greece were all disqualified for incorrect changeovers during their respective qualifying rides, they were pitted against France in the final.
France led early on, but Australia fought back in the last lap to record a time of 43.266 seconds, just .001s quicker than France.
As such, the hosts claimed their first world championship in the event since 1966 in dramatic fashion.Sportsbeat / Reuters