Cycling: Hoy, Queally and Staff get Britain off to golden start

Jason Queally has finally got his hands on the rainbow jersey of a world champion at the grand old age of 34 after the Lancastrian, Chris Hoy and Jamie Staff won gold in the team sprint in Los Angeles.

Jason Queally has finally got his hands on the rainbow jersey of a world champion at the grand old age of 34 after the Lancastrian, Chris Hoy and Jamie Staff won gold in the team sprint in Los Angeles.

The trio defied illness and mishap to provide the perfect start to the World Championships with an opening-day victory over an impressive Dutch three, including world sprint champion Theo Bos, in the final.

It was a welcome victory following disappointment in the event at the Athens Olympics when Hoy, Queally and Craig MacLean were beaten in the first round by eventual winners Germany despite setting the second fastest time ever recorded.

And it was an especially sweet moment for veteran Queally, who won the kilometre time-trial at the 2000 Olympics but had not topped the podium at a World Championships until now.

"It's fantastic," he said. "I have never been world champion before."

Expectations were high as Staff, Hoy and MacLean won the event in 2002 and British teams have not finished outside the medals since 1999.

And the trio cruised into the final with a qualifying time over three-tenths-of-a-second quicker than the next best team.

The race for the gold medal was less straightforward, however, with some last-gasp spanner work needed to replace a pedal on lead-off man Staff's bike just seconds before the start of the race.

Staff, a late replacement for flu victim Craig MacLean, has not ridden competitively since he was disqualified from the Keirin at last year's Olympics.

But, living on the outskirts of Los Angeles, he has been able to train regularly at the host velodrome and he proved a more than adequate substitute for the Scot as the only man go quicker than he had managed in qualifying.

The Dutch led by 0.16seconds going into the final lap despite the efforts of Staff and Queally but a storming last circuit of the 250-metre track by Hoy secured a British victory by 0.334secs.

"It was a big surprise because the whole team sprint scenario coming into these World Championships was one where I wasn't sure if we would be competitive," added Queally.

"What with Craig being sick and Jamie being over here and not having been competing since Athens.

"But typical Jamie, he goes out, rides his BMX, and pops out a 17.6-second lap and a 17.7 which is just incredible.

"He's an amazing guy. It's disappointing for Craig he wasn't on the podium with us. Off the back of a long, long season to come here it proves what a strong team we are."

Hoy, who succeeded Queally as Olympic kilometre champion last year and will defend his world title when both riders compete in the event tomorrow, was delighted for his team-mate.

"He looks good standing there with a rainbow jersey," he said. "I think he'll enjoy being called world champion and not former Olympic champion. He rode a really impressive lap there and will be up there in the kilo tomorrow."

There was some British disappointment in the points race with Chris Newton, 2002 winner of the event, narrowly missing out on third place and in the 500 metre time-trial with Victoria Pendleton settling for fifth.

However, there should be more medals on the second day with Queally, as Hoy points out, in strong enough form to finish on the podium in the kilometre. The Scot will, however, be strong favourite to win an event in which he is already an Olympic, Commonwealth and two-time world champion.

Staff will hope to defend his Keirin title while Rob Hayles could improve on the silver medal he won in the individual pursuit last year.

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