|Cycling – World Track Championships|
|Venue: Pruszkow, Poland Dates: 27 February – 3 March|
|Coverage: Thurs 28 Feb: 17:30-20:30 – BBC Red Button, iPlayer, Sport website and app, connected TV|
Great Britain had to settle for silver in the men’s and women’s team pursuit at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Pruszkow, Poland.
Australia finished in three minutes 48.012 seconds to smash the world record in the men’s event.
That lowered their record of 3:49.804 set at the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
In the women’s team pursuit, four-time Olympic champion Laura Kenny helped Britain to silver as Australia triumphed by 0.204 secs.
‘We can give them a run at the big one’
Britain shaved more than two-and-a-half seconds off the time that saw them take gold in the men’s event in Apeldoorm in 2018.
But despite being defending champions, three-time Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy and teammates Charlie Tanfield, Ethan Hayter and Kian Emadi were unable to match the blistering speed of the Australian team.
Leigh Howard, Sam Welsford, Kelland O’Brien and Alex Porter, gained and then stretched their early advantage and now look likely to be Britain’s main competition for gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“We actually rode pretty well, we were only a couple of tenths shy of what we did in Rio with our full Olympic package, but that’s just an indication of how good the Australian ride was,” said Clancy.
“I sound like a broken record but you’re only going to get our best performance at an Olympics for a number of reasons. We can’t be complacent, we have to stay close and keep pushing them.
“We’re all disappointed to have given up our world title but if we can keep moving forward like we are doing then we can give them a run at the big one.”
‘I’ve let the girls down’
In the women’s race, an Australian quartet of Ashlee Ankudinoff, Georgia Baker, Amy Cure and Annette Edmondson pulled almost a second clear before being reeled in during the final two laps.
But they hung on to win by a little over two tenths of a second with Kenny – part of a team featuring Elinor Barker, Katie Archibald and Eleanor Dickinson – assuming responsibility for Britain’s silver medal.
“I feel I’ve let the girls down, I haven’t had the best legs the last couple of days and I feel a lot of responsibility for the times we’ve been doing,” she said.
“I didn’t pull nearly the turn lengths I was doing at home so I’m disappointed for that. It’s just disappointing on the day.”
Denmark claimed the bronze medal in the men’s at the expense of Canada, while New Zealand took bronze in the women’s race.
Chris Boardman, former Olympic cycling champion and BBC summariser
We’ve never seen anything like that Australian performance in the men’s team pursuit before.
It is quite a blow to the British quartet to be three tenths of a second off the fastest time a British team has ever done and still be well beaten.
It is not a drubbing though and they are still in good shape for the Olympics.
Britain’s Jack Carlin followed up on his promising performances in the World Cup event in London in December to finish fifth in the final of the men’s keirin,
The 21-year-old advanced from a star-studded field – containing Australia’s Matt Glaetzer – in the second round and was again on the sprint champion’s wheel going into the penultimate lap of the final.
But Netherlands rider Matthijs Buchli mounted a devastating attack to take gold as Carlin got boxed in on the inside.
Japan’s Yudai Nitta took the silver and Germany’s Stefan Botticher took the bronze.
There was also a strong performance from Britain’s Matt Walls in the men’s scratch race.
The 20-year-old featured near the front of the field for the majority of the 15km distance and finished in sixth in a race won by Australia’s Welsford.
It was a disappointing day for Olympic bronze medallist Katy Marchant who went out in the last 16 in the women’s individual sprint.
The 26-year-old was beaten by Germany’s Lea Sophie Friedrich to miss out on a place in the quarter-finals.
“It’s a shame but this season has been a funny one for me,” Marchant said. “I’ve sacrificed a lot of individual preparation. To go to all six world cups, it’s taken its toll.”