Anna Meares ended Victoria Pendleton’s four-year reign as world sprint queen by knocking the Olympic champion out at the semi-final stage.
The Australian went on to beat Lithuania’s Simona Krupeckaite to win her first rainbow jersey for the individual sprint.
Day four of the World Track Championships in Apeldoorn belonged to the Aussies – but Marianne Vos raised the roof by giving the hosts their first gold of the week in the scratch race.
But the Australian team will take great encouragement from the fact that they won gold in three Olympic disciplines.
Shane Perkins won a brilliant Keirin competition, clinching a fantastic final ahead of Chris Hoy and Teun Mulder of the Netherlands. Then Michael Freiberg took the omnium, ahead of the Kiwi New Zealand.
With two Olympic disciplines to be concluded tomorrow, the current scoreboard of gold medals in the events that feature on the London 2012 programme is headed by Australia, with four. France have won two and Britain just one, the women’s team pursuit.
Anna Meares and Victoria Pendleton engage in a bit of cat-and-mouse
Pendleton’s defeat in the sprint semi-final may actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise. She won in Palma in 2007, then Manchester, Pruszkow and Copenhagen – a winning streak that was likely to become harder to maintain as well as providing her opponents with extra incentive to shoot her down.
Now she can take stock and rebuild, rather than go into Olympic year with a five-year unbroken run of world titles to defend.
Meares was impressive, though. Her match sprinting was better than we’ve seen for a long time. Although Pendleton took race two off her in the semi-final, the other two victories by Meares were assured.
Krupeckaite came from 1-0 down to beat Olga Panarina in the semi-final. But she had no answer to Meares in the final.
Pendleton regrouped to see off Panarina for the bronze and keep her run of medals going.
Shane Perkins was an impressive winner of the men’s Keirin although he had to go through the repechages after finishing second to Mulder in the first round.
Hoy beat Kenny in their first round heat and Crampton won his race. Kenny then joined them in the second round by winning his repechage.
The second round pitted all three British riders together in the first heat. Crampton won with a powerful ride from the front. Rene Enders of Germany and Chris Hoy, with a superb late drive for the line, joined him. Kenny was knocked out.
In the other heat, Mickael Bourgain went very early before Mulder and Perkins challenged him. Those three were first over the line but Bourgain was later relegated for moving off his line and Edward Dawkins advanced to the final instead.
Perkins held off another late bid by Hoy to win the gold medal – and was absolutely delighted to do so.
Shane Perkins takes another gold for Australia in an Olympic discipline
The men’s omnium still struggles to convince many observers that it deserves a place in the Olympic Games.
But, after a shaky start in Friday’s flying lap, where he was 12th, Freiberg was the model of consistency. He was never out of the top six in the other five events, winning the scratch race to put himself in a strong position going into the kilometre time trial.
Shane Archbold of New Zealand won that kilo to close the gap but sixth place was enough to give Freiberg gold.
Britain’s Sam Harrison ended his campaign on a high – with the third fastest time in the kilo. Following a heavy schedule that saw him ride the team pursuit final and start the scratch race, the omnium was a gruelling challenge. He stepped in to replace the unwell Ed Clancy. The bunch races and the individual pursuit were where it was able to ascertain that the effort was beginning to tell.
Vos rounded off the penultimate day with a fine sprint win in the women’s scratch race. She attacked with Australia’s Katherine Bates and two others and gained half a a lap on the field.
Britain’s Dani King then bridged across and the group stayed away. King rode smartly. Clearly feeling the effort of getting up to the leaders she tried to skip turns as much as she could to save herself for the sprint. And her tactics were rewarded with a bronze medal.
The women’s omnium also got underway. The Dutch rider Kirsten Wild leads after three events. She is two points clear of Tara Whitten of Canada. Britain’s Laura Trott is in 18th place.
Sunday’s final day sees four more gold medals on offer. Victoria Pendleton and Becky James ride for Britain in the Keirin and the women’s omnium concludes. And there are the men’s kilometre time trial and men’s Madison, neither of which have British representation.
World champs debutant looks delighted with her second medal, a bronze in the scratch race
DAY FOUR MEDALLISTS
1 Anna Meares (Australia)
2 Simona Krupeckaite (Lithuania)
3 Victoria Pendleton (Great Britain)
1 Shane Perkins (Australia)
2 Chris Hoy (Great Britain)
3 Teun Mulder (Netherlands)
1 Michael Freiberg (Australia)
2 Shane Archbold (New Zealand)
3 Gijs Van Hoecke (Belgium)
Women’s scratch race
1 Marianne Vos (Netherlands)
2 Katherine Bates (Australia)
3 Danielle King (Great Britain)