World Track Championships: GB wins men's team pursuit from Australia with new WR, Ben Swift wins scratch race
Varnish and Pendleton miss out on bronze in women's team sprint, Germans twice break world record
Great Britain's men's team pursuit squad are the new world champions and set a new world record of 3:53:295 to beat defending champions Australia in Melbourne today. Ben Swift came through with a storming last few laps to win the men's scratch race, but Great Britain finished out of the medals in two of its strongest events - the men's and women's team sprints.
In the women's team sprint, Germany set new world records both in qualifying and the final, where they beat Australia. Britain's Jess Varnish and Victoria Pendleton posted the third quickest time in qualifying, but lost the bronze medal race to China. A new-look British men's team sprint line-up, with German-born Philip Hindes brought in, was relegated from the results of the team sprint as were opponents Germany, both being penalised for riders peeling off before their lap was complete.
In a thrilling men's team pursuit final, Great Britain and Australia were neck and neck until after the halfway point of the race, but big turns by Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh saw the British quartet, which featured Steven Burke in place of Andy Tennant who had ridden in the qualifier earlier today, pull out a lead of just over eight tenths of a second at one point.
Australia weren't finished, however, and came back strongly towards the end, but Ed Clancy dug in deep to keep Great Britain in front, by 0.106 of a second, the home nation also getting inside their own previous world record time. In the bronze medal race, New Zealand had come back strongly in the final kilometre to overcome Russia.
The Great Britain quartet of Tennant, Kennaugh and the two survivors of the team that won gold at Beijing, Thomas and Clancy, had set the third fastest time ever as they qualified first in a time of 3:54:485.
The final team out on the track was the world champions Australia, who knew that there was a cushion of nearly five seconds between the British time and that set by the next quickest country, New Zealand.
The four Australian riders, Glenn O'Shea, Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis and Michael Hepburn, went off quickly but eased off towards the end, posting a time of 3:54:654, itself the fifth quickest in history prior to the final.
Other events to be decided today include the women’s team sprint, where all the pre-event hype was all about the battle between Great Britain and Australia. However, in qualifying, it was Germany who set the velodrome alight as Kristina Vogel and Miriam Velte set a new world record of 32.630.
The final heat saw Great Britain’s pair of Jess Varnish and Victoria Pendleton, who had set the previous world record in London in February, face off against the Australian pairing of Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch.
Meares, very much the poster girl of these championships in her home country, put in a blisteringly quick first lap, the fastest ever recorded in the event of 18.450, with Varnish going round 0.405 of a second slower.
While Pendleton managed to close some of the distance on McCulloch in the second lap, it was Australia that went go through to the final against Germany, with Great Britain riding against China for bronze. In that race, however, Varnish was unable to repeat the form that she had shown in qualifying, leaving Pendleton with just too much to do on the second lap, China winning by 0.290 of a second.
In the final, Meares burst out of the gates and roared on by the home crowd in the Hisense Arena the Australian pair had a lead of a quarter of a second going into the final lap. It was Germany who emerged victorious though, beating the worldd record they had set earlier in the evening in a time of 32.549 seconds, 0.048 of a second ahead of their rivals.
The men's team sprint looked set to produce an intriguing final between France, winners of the event in Apeldoorn last year, and Germany, who were beaten in that final but awarded the world championship earlier this year after France were stripped of the result as a consequence of Grégory Baugé's infringement of anti-doping 'Whereabouts' regulations.
Those two countries had posted the fastest times in qualifying, but Germany and their opponents in their heat, Great Britain, were both relegated from the results due to riders peeling off the front too early - they are only allowed to do so within 15 metres of the end of the lap in question.
The British line-up is featured a new look, with 19-year-old Philip Hindes drafted in alongside Jason Kenny and Sir Chris Hoy. The word from the GB camp when the inclusion of Hindes, born in Germany where his father was serving with the British armed forces, was confirmed, was that they wanted him to experience a major championships.
He responded today by putting in a personal best in the opening lap today, although it appears that it was his early move off the front that led to Great Britain being relegated. Whether that was due to inexperience at this level or nerves regarding the occasion is unclear as yet, but the role of leading the riders out on the opening lap is also one that can be fulfilled by Matt Crampton or Ross Edgar come London 2012.
The relegations of Great Britain and Germany meant that France faced Australia in the final, while New Zealand went for bronze against Japan. Australia, led off by Shane Perkins who had been left bruised and with a sprained wrist after being hit by a car at the weekend, took the final in a time of 43.266, just 1/1000th of a second quicker than the French. new Zealand took bronze.
In the men's scratch race, Ben Swift picked off his rivals one by one to lead the field going into the final lap, but had to hold off a late charge from South Africa's Nolan Hoffman who burst through from nowhere to take silver, almost getting alongside Swift on the line.