After four Olympic events the British team has now medalled in each of them at this year’s world track champs. Encouragingly for them, on the second night of competition in Apeldoorn, it was gold and silver rather than bronzes that they captured.
The gold came after an incredible ride in the women’s team pursuit where team GB fielded two world championship debutants. Dani King and Laura Trott joined forces with erstwhile Wendy Houvenaghel to beat the Americans and take the world title back in this new Olympic event.
20-year-old King only came in to the British squad in November, and had never before ridden in a world championship event, either at senior or junior level. Trott is the current junior world omnium champion, but this is the 18-year-olds first senior worlds.
The make-up of the British pursuit squad shows how fluid the line-up is. Jo Rowsell, a cornerstone of the team since 2008, wasn’t fast enough while Rebecca Romero and Sarah Storey are also on the sidelines. For 36-year-old Houvenaghel to withstand this sort of onslaught from the younger riders shows some staying power.
Wendy Houvenaghel, Laura Trott and Dani King celebrate their win
The British women’s team sprint duo also took a significant step forward at these championships. Jess Varnish and Victoria Pendleton took the silver medal and continue to close the gap on the Australian duo of Kaarle McCulloch and Anna Meares.
The two pairs were split by just 0.288 seconds in the gold medal ride and while Jess Varnish is getting ever faster, over the second lap Pendleton had the measure of Meares who has been imperious since Beijing in the timed events.
There was good news in the men’s sprint too as both Sir Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny made it through to the semi-finals to be ridden tomorrow. It means GB will win at least a silver in the event. By the way Hoy is looking, it could be better.
The fourth event of the night, the men’s individual pursuit, was a bit of a damp squib. Jack Bobridge, the new holder of the event’s world record ran out winner ahead of Jesse Sergent (NZl) but a slow track and lack of any other riders of note in the field meant the event was never going to grab anyone’s attention.
Bobridge’s win was the first for Australia since Brad McGee in 2002 and continues the Australian’s strong run in both the individual and team events. Sam Harrison had been due to ride for GB but was pulled out to allow him to ride the omnium, starting tomorrow.
Ed Clancy was due to ride and defend his title but flew home today as he is still recovering from a viral infection.
Dani King celebrates her world title. She wasn’t even on the British squad before November 2010