Laura Trott proves worthy of Victoria Pendleton's crown for Team GB

 

Even as Vicky Pendleton's reign as Britain's - and the world's  - top track racer entered its very last phase, Laura Trott, 11 years her junior, both doubled her London gold medal total in the women's Omnium today and, in the process laid claim to Pendleton's soon-to-be vacant throne.

Initially targetting Rio 2016,  Trott has outpaced her planned schedule by a mere four years first to form part of the triumphant women's team pursuit squad on Friday and then to shine equally brilliantly on an individual level four days later.

If a triumph at such a young age is relatively rare in cycling, Trott has always been a precocious sort of talent. Whilst a keen trampolinist at school, Trott began concentrating on cycling in her late teens and picked up a European Championship track title in 2010 before becoming the youngest Commonwealth Games participant later than year -  where she raced alongside her sister Emma, a professinoal bike racer.

Today, though, the glory was all hers. In a thrilling ding-dong battle against American Sarah Hammer, the Briton finished in first place in the final two lap individual time trial, thereby claiming Team GB's sixth track gold out of eight completed events, ahead of Hammer with Australia's Annette Edmondson in bronze.

Whilst GB team-mate and male team pursuiter Ed Clancy described his bronze medal in the men's Omnium on Sunday as a bonus that came despite specific preparation for the previous event, Trott's triumph  in this new multidisciplined race was a far steadier, more planned affair.

Crowned Omnium World Champion in Melbourne in 2012, the 20-year-old was leading after three of the six rounds, winning the opening flying lap event and then taking the elimination - her strongest suit - on Monday night with her usual mixture of cannily timed accelerations and always, somehow, managing to be in the exactly right place at the right time.

However, the Individual Pursuit, event number four, represented both a step forward - in that she moved up a spot compared with her performance in Melbourne, to second - and a step back, in that her strongest rival, Hammer, finished first and claimed the overall lead, albeit by just one point.

With a medal now all but guaranteed but Hammer, the bronze medallist in the Worlds' Omnium, clearly her top threat, the scratch race - event number five, decided by the first rider across the line - became crucial.

First Trott put Hammer under pressure with several digs whilst the American, inexplicably, sat at the back, it was then Hammer's turn to surge forward. After Trott neutralised that move, and the race edged towards a bunch sprint decider, a final long surge then netted Hammer a second place just in front of Trott, and doubled her advantage on the Briton.

And so it came down to the final event, with journalists frantically calculating the two top contenders overall time totals - which would have decided the event in the case of a draw on places. As winner of the 500 metre time trial event in Melbourne, Trott was the favourite, but Hammer's shadowing of the young Briton so closely dramatically increased the tension.

However, Trott's  formidable time trialling capacitiies, honed to a maximum in her team pursuiting, served her perfectly.

After each half-laps, whilst Hammer faded to fourth and a silver medal ahead of Australia's Annette Edmondson and GB women's pursuit team coach (and former team pursuit gold medallist) Paul Manning shouted himself hoarse from the line -  Trott continued to forge onwards towards gold, and the first track medal for GB on this last night of velodrome racing. Not to mention a confirmation that if Pendleton is shortly no longer to be present with us, Trott seems more than ready to fill her place.

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