It's a measure of how far we've come in track cycling that a day that saw team GB win two silvers and two bronzes could be described as a slow start, but the first day of the World Champs was a slightly disappointing one, particularly for Wendy Houvenaghel and Chris Newton.
Newton was among the favourites for the points race, but was forced to do a lot of work chasing down breaks at the front of the pack and the workload took its toll in the penultimate sprint where he missed out on a scoring place. With two riders off the front in the final stages there were only two points for the pack to chase, and Newton duly snapped them up to assure a third place finish, with Cameron Meyer (AUS) and Daniel Kreutzfeldt (DEN) – who placed first and second in the penultimate sprint – taking the top two podium places.
Houvenaghel looked set for the top step after posting a 3:29.491 in qualifying, a second and a half quicker than anyone else. But in the final after a fast first kilometre in which she went half a second up on Alison Shanks (NZL) she faded to finish in 3:32.174, over two seconds down on the New Zealander. However, Houvenaghel has never won an individual medal at world championship level so her silver here could be seen as progress, if you're a glass half full kind of person.
Victoria Pendleton's 500m time trial ride was more in hope than expectation – it's her least favourite of the four disciplines she'll be participating in and the last time she rode this event was at the worlds was back in 2006 when she finished fourth. No-one could touch Simona Krupeckaite (LTU) though, who stormed to gold in a new world record time of 33.296, Pendleton finishing in bronze behind Anna Mears (AUS) with a time of 34.102.
Hopes were high for the men's team sprint even without Sir Chris at the helm, and in the semis they looked good despite qualifying in second place 0.175s behind the French, who swapped out Michaël D'Almeida for Mickaël Bourgain for the final. After Grégory Bauge put 0.2s into Jamie Staff in the first lap it was always going to be a long way back, and Matt Crampton lost the wheel of Jason Kenny in the second 250m meaning that he had to work a lot harder and didn't have enough left in the showdown to push for victory.
So plenty of medal interest but no golds on the first day, but hopes will be very high today. The best chances of striking gold are with the ladies: with second and fourth in the individuals the women should place well in the team pursuit. The day 2 programme includes the men's individual pursuit, men's keirin, women's team pursuit, men's scratch and women's team sprint.
For more results visit the official 2009 World Track Championship website
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