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UCI Track World Championships – day one: two golds for Great Britain

Team GB have opened their account at the UCI Track World Championships with two gold medals.

The men’s team pursuit squad vanquished Australia with a new world record, and Ben Swift won gold in the men’s Scratch race.

But there was disappointment for the team sprint squads, with both men’s and women’s teams finishing just outside the medal positions in fourth.

A Team GB line-up of Steven Burke, Ed Clancy, Pete Kennaugh jnr, and Geraint Thomas, set a time of 3.53.295 to break the nation’s existing world record.

The victory represents sweet revenge for Team GB, who were comprehensively beaten by their Australian rivals at the London round of the UCI Track World Cup in February.

Last month, Ed Clancy told RCUK he expected a ‘dog fight’ with Team GB’s Antipodean rivals at this summer’s Olympic Games, and the World Championship final was closely contested, with Australia clocking 3.53.401.

Clancy told BBC Sport: “That’s the best race I’ve had. It’s the ones you really have to fight hard for that you remember, and we won’t forget that one.

“We got into that last lap and I’d already given it everything, I was just a passenger – I thought, ‘Oh man, I’m going to lose it all here.’ Thankfully, it was just enough.”

Steven Burke replaced Andy Tennant in a team that had set the fastest qualifiying time. Thomas told the BBC their world record performance set the stage for the London Games.

“We’re really looking forward now, London 2012 is massive. [Here in the velodrome] the crowd would go nuts for a lap, then go quiet, and I was like, ‘I think we’re up now.’

“We had a strategy, we pushed it to the edge and we had enough of a buffer to hold on. It’s a great, great feeling.”

The men’s team sprint line-up of Sir Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, and new ‘man one’, 19-year-old Philip Hindes, were prevented from contesting the ‘B’ final for the bronze medal after being found guilty of making an illegal change between riders. Germany suffered the same fate.

Hoy told BBC Sport: “We looked at the video and we’ve got nothing to argue about, it was a very small mistake by Phil. He did a great ride, to have done a 17.5 in his first championship.

“He’s disappointed but he shouldn’t feel the responsibility – experienced teams like the Germans have been relegated as well. It shouldn’t happen but we’ve won and lost championships by thousandths of a second. If you get it slightly wrong then you’re out and that’s what happened tonight.

“Having said that, that’s the first time in 16 years of competing that I’ve been in a team that’s been relegated. This will all be forgotten if it goes well in London, but this is still a world championships and it would’ve been nice to at least challenge for the podium in the second ride.”

The final was contested by Australia and France, with victory going to the home nation.

Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varish also suffered disappointment after being beaten to the bronze in a ‘B’ final against the Chinese duo of  Gong Jinjie and Guo Shuang.

British pair were beaten by the Australian pairing of Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch in an earlier qualifying round, and saw their world record, set in February at London’s Olympic Velodrome, taken by  Miriam Welte and Kristina Vogel of Germany.

Pendleton told BBC Sport: ‘”Welte and Kristina Vogel have both been performing at a high level for a number of years. To be honest, it’s not surprising they’ve managed to suddenly find their form and get it together. Tonight was really their night.

“We can’t be disappointed with our ride – they just rode an exceptional race tonight. We’re not rolling over yet but tonight was their night.

“We’re only talking a couple of tenths or so, it’s not a massive amount of time, and we’ve got a lot more to come in terms of fine-tuning our performance. What we’ve done already has been a massive achievement and more than I expected, really.”

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