Cycling: Golden start in record times for GB’s women

 

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The Independent Online

Two gold medals and two world records for the GB women's team sprint and team pursuit squads here last night provided the ideal start to the final countdown towards London 2012 – and set the bar promisingly high for August.

Both squads had finished in the runners-up spot in their qualifiers, with the team pursuiters on Thursday behind Canada and the sprint duo of Vicky Pendleton and Jess Varnish just down on Australia's time yesterday morning.

Pendleton and Varnish were the first to turn the tables, with Varnish just a fraction behind her Australian rival Kaarle McCulloch in her opening lap before Pendleton darted forward to claim the gold by some 0.2sec in the world record time of 32.754sec.

The duo were full of optimism for August in what is a new women's Olympic discipline, with Pendleton pointing out "we feel we've got more to give – but if you're already at the top and have got that extra margin to come that's a very good place to be."

The two had already secured a new national record when they went under 33sec in the qualifiers, and then upped their game again by using different gear ratios in the final. "We thought, why not try it, we'll get a silver medal in the worst case," Pendleton explained. "It was a gamble, but this" – a World Cup meeting where there is relatively little to lose – "was the right point [in the track calendar] to do it."

The GB trio of team pursuiters soon followed suit in golden style. Rather than launch themselves into the action as they had done on Thursday, the trio of Laura Trott, Dani King – replacing Wendy Houvenhagel – and Jo Rowsell concentrated on maintaining a small but telling margin of three to four tenths of a second over their Canadian rivals.

That strategy worked perfectly. While the Canadians crumbled slowly but steadily under the pressure of being permanently on the backfoot, Britain's trio retained their iron discipline right up to the pistol shot that signified a second world record and another gold.

It all seemed super-cool but there had been no lack of nerves, as Trott revealed later that she had been taking pills to stop herself being sick. But, crucially, the trio exerted a far tighter control than they had on Thursday.

"Jo came out a lot steadier today, which set the ride up." Trott said. "Yesterday she came out as if we were doing a bloody 500 metre sprint and it's like 'Where do you go from there? You're only going to get slower'. It was control, control and then hit for home, and that's exactly what we did."

Britain's men have yet to match the women, with a bronze medal for the team sprint against Australia the best they could manage from their first final here. "We're coming back but we've been messing around with the formation," explained Jason Kenny, who along with Sir Chris Hoy won gold at Beijing in the discipline.

There will be other chances for the men, though, on a weekend of top-class action on the new boards.

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