Track Worlds Day 4: Laura Trott takes Great Britain's gold tally to five with one day to go
Silvers for Swift in points race and Kenny in sprint, with Hoy taking bronze
Laura Trott has won Great Britain's fifth gold medal of the 2012 UCI Track World Championships at the Hisense Arena in Melbourne. Leading the women's omnium as it went into the final discipline, the 500m time trial, she went on to post the quckest time to claim gold. The country picked up three more medals through silvers for Ben Swift in the points race and Jason Kenny in the individual sprint, an event that also saw Sir Chris Hoy secure the bronze. Australia now has five golds too, but leads the medal table having picked up more siiver and bronzes.
In the women's omnium, Trott, who turns 20 later this month, led by two points from Australia's Annette Edmondson as the pair faced each other across the track in the final race of the 500m time trial. Edmondson, herself aged 20, had led the competition after the opening event, the flying lap, in which Trott posted the second quickest time, and also won an exciting elimination race yesterday evening to put herself onto 11 points, the same as Edmondson, although the second day's programme suited the Briton better.
In the first event today, the individual pursuit, Tara Whitten of Canada went quickest ahead of the USA's Sarah Hammer. Both had outside chances of gold, but Trott posted the third quickest time and Edmondson the fourth fastest, putting the Briton into the lead by a single point ahead of the scratch race. That event saw the four leading contenders mark each other closely, Trott content to let Hammer and Whitten pick up some points but making sure she finished a place ahead of Edmondson to give herself a two point margin going into the final event.
Trott went off very quickly in the final, and in posting the quickest time ensured that calculators weren't needed to work out the winner of an event that will make its Olympic debut this summer. The Hertfordshire cyclist, who said afterwards that the Olympic Velodrome is "in my back garden, basically" will now make the short trip there this summer as one of Britain's strongest medal prospects in the individual track events.
Kenny, meawhile, beat Hoy 2-0 in their individual sprint semi-final, giving Great Britain's selectors a headache ahead of the Olympics - only one rider per coutry is allowed in the event - and also setting up an intriguing repeat of last year's final against Baugé, who beat Australia's Shane Perkins by a similar margin in his semi-final.
The Frenchman got the better of Kenny in the Netherlands last year, but was stripped of that title by the UCI in January after he had been handed a retroactive ban by the French cycling federation as a result of 'whereabouts' violations. Kenny was subsequently formally presented with his gold medal and the rainbow jersey at the UCI Track World Cycling World Cup Classics event at the Olympic Velodrome in London in February.
In the opening race of the final, Kenny, shadowed by Baugé, went early, a lap and a half out, but the Frenchman never seemed to be in trouble and came through to pass him shortly before the line. The British rider outfoxed his rival in the second race though, waiting a moment as Baugé rode slowly away from the starting gate before launching himself past his startled opponent. Slowly, Baugé reeled Key in, but it was the man who had replaced him as world champion who crossed the line first.
TV replayes showed however that twice in the closing lap, Kenny had deviated off the spriters' line. Once, he might have got away with, but at these championships the rules have been strictly enforced, and after several minutes he was relegated to give Baugé a 2-0 victory, and with it, the world championship.
Earlier, the first of the broze-medal ride-off races between Hoy and Perkins had also attracted scrutiny. There had been a question mark over whether the Scot might be relegated, but the judges appeared to have ruled that Hoy's deviation had been caused by the Australian knocking him off balance in a hard-fought race. Hoy won the second race too to seal bronze, he and Perkins sportingly applauding one another as they rode round the track afterwards.
Victoria Pendleton, who crashed heavily in the semi-final on her way to winning a thrilling individual sprint competition yesterday, gave it everything she had in the keirin semi-final today after qualifying via the repechage, but perhaps still suffering from the after-effects of that fall yesterday, she was passed in the home straight and eliminated from the competition. The race proved to be the final one of Pendleton's world championship career, in which she has won nine gold medals - the 31-year-old has already announced that she will retire after this summer's Olympics.
In the keirin final, Meares who had come into these championships as defending champion in three events only to find herself beaten in photo finishes in both the individual and team sprint finals, had the crowd on its feet as she came off the final bend and powered to the line to take gold.
Geraint Thomas narrowly missed out on the chance to race for a medal in the individual pursuit, which will also be decided today, the Welshman posting the fifth fastest time in qualifying, completing the 4 kilometres in 4.17.265. Australia won both gold and silver, with defending champion Jack Bobridge going second quickest behind team mate Michael Hepburn. In the final, Bobridgerode off on target to beat his own world record, but Hepburn, riding to his own plan, sarted comig back and entering the last lap was in front, holding on to win.
The hosts had an opportunity of a clean sweep in the event, with the third-fastest qualifier, Rohan Dennis, racing New Zealand's Westley Gough for bronze. That race saw Dennis too go off quickly, building a lead of more than a second and a half over the Kiwi, but Gough came back strongly as the Australian flagged in the final kilometre to claim bronze.
The points race saw Ben Swift take the opening two sprints to lead the competition, with Spain's Unai Elorriaga countering to lead the competition by two points from the Briton at the halfway stage. Swift, leading the field across the line for the 10th of the 16 sprints, moved back into the lead, but Belgium's Kenny de Ketele went on the charge and picked up the next four, though without gaining the lap that may have given him the gold medal.
Throughout the race, one of the riders Swift watched most closely was 2009 and 2010 champion Cameron Meyer, managing to bridge across each time the Australian got away. Each time, that is, until shortly after the third from last sprint, ahead of which a group containing those two riders had sat up and allowed what was left of the main field to rejoin. Again, Meyer went on the attack, this time with only Aaron Gate of New Zealand for company.
Meyer - and a vociferous crowd - knew that if he could catch the back of the bunch within the final few laps and pick up the penultimate sprint on the way, the world title was his, and the home rider didn't disappoint them. Swift, briefly out of the medal places, couldn't now win, but he did clinch the final sprint to get silver, one point behind Meyer.
Tomorrow's final day sees Swift back on the track as he partners Geraint Thomas in the Madison, no longer an Olympic event of course, but one in which there is not only a gold medal and raibow jersey up for brags, but also some important bragging rights - the last Great Britain riders to win this race in a world championship were two men who are now their collegaues at Team Sky, Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish.
That race will brong the world championships to a close. Dani King and Jess Varnish go in the 500 metre time trial, while Joanna Rowsell and Wendy Houvenaghel both ride in the women's individual pursuit. Jason Kenny, Sir Chris Hoy and Matt Crampton all take part in the day's other event, the keirin.