Cycling: Team GB launch pursuit of glory with two golds
Thursday 05 April 2012
The British trio of Dani King, Laura Trott and Jo Rowsell produced the two fastest times in the history of women's pursuiting to win Britain's third gold of the World Track Championships here in Melbourne yesterday.
But while the three were all smiles bedecked with their gold medals and rainbow jerseys, the sentiment was that the champagne was very much on ice, the job only half-done with London looming.
A beaming King said: "Bring on the Olympics," while Rowsell, bouncing back from a litany of injuries and illnesses, took things further adding "hopefully we'll be invincible by the Olympics".
Her wish is perfectly plausible. In what was their last competition before the Games, it would be unwise to bet against them in an event which is arguably as much about mental strength as it is about the riders' speed.
In qualifying, the British trio had watched as the Australian team, made up of Annette Edmondson, Melissa Hoskins and Josephine Tomic, broke the initial world record with a time of 3min 17.053sec only for the British to steady their nerves and wrest the record back with their subsequent qualifying ride of 3:16.850, 10 minutes later.
Britain had broken the world record at Manchester Velodrome only wearing training kit two days before flying to Australia so were confident of going quicker in the final. But their coach, Paul Manning, winner of Olympic gold in the team pursuit in Beijing, opted to break the news to them before the final that their Aussie rivals had achieved the same feat in a recent training run.
Initially, the pep talk appeared to unsettle rather than lift his riders, who fell nearly one-and-a-half seconds behind their hosts in the final. Rather than panic, though, they stuck to Manning's plan to ride a consistent pace for the 12-lap duration of the race.
They led when it mattered, moving ahead with three laps to go, thanks to a final 1,000 metres that was half-a-second a lap quicker than what the Australians could muster for a new world's best of 3:15.720 nearly a second clear.
Trott, the youngest of the trio at 19, admitted afterwards she may look too diminutive to be capable of competing at the highest level but she proved arguably the strongest asset in the latter stages, putting in longer turns later on than both King and Rowsell, who hailed Trott as "awesome" afterwards.
Trott added: "We wanted to beat them on their home soil, especially before the Olympics. It puts out a strong message. They've got to beat us now, at our home town."
For King, 21, and Trott it was a second world title of their brief careers while for Rowsell, it was her third, marking the end of a bad run of luck.
"I didn't make the team last year," she said. "I'd had glandular fever the summer before and then I had broken my elbow in the winter. These things happen in sport and I'm glad all that happened back in 2010. Now bring on the Olympics."
Britain remain on course to add to their medal tally today courtesy of Victoria Pendleton, who looks to be riding herself into form at just the right time in the 200m sprint. Bronze looks the likeliest outcome, however, having been paired against Anna Meares in the semi-finals, Meares having set a world's best of 10.782sec in yesterday's qualifying.
Pendleton started the day slowly with only the fifth-quickest time in qualifying, confidently beating Yvonne Hijgenaar in round one before edging China's Junhong Lin, who had earlier knocked out Jess Varnish, in the next round. The Olympic champion saved her best for last, however, beating France's Virginie Cueff twice by a bike length in their best-of-three quarter-final to progress to the semi-finals of the individual sprint for a 10th straight world championship.
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