Great Britain take first track cycling gold of Rio 2016

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Great Britain take first track cycling gold of Rio 2016 as records tumble in the velodrome

Team sprint trio win gold in Olympic record time; women's team pursuit set new world record; men's team pursuit qualify fastest

A record-breaking first day on the track at Rio 2016 ended with the British men’s team sprint trio claiming the first track cycling gold medal of this year’s Olympic Games.

The team sprint trio of Philip Hindes, Jason Kenny and Callum Skinner twice broke the Olympic record to claim gold – Kenny’s fourth of his career – at the expense of world champions New Zealand in the final.

Both the men’s and women’s team pursuit quartets qualified fastest in their first rounds too – Jo Rowsell Shand, Katie Archibald, Laura Trott and Elinor Barker setting a new world record in the process, while Sir Bradley Wiggins, Ed Clancy, Owain Doull and Steven Burke narrowly missed out on a new world record of their own.

It was the team sprint trio who claimed the first gold on the Rio track, however, marking a huge improvement on their recent World Championships performances, and proving once again the Brits’ ability to peak for the Games.

Britain won the first track cycling gold medal of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, beating world champions New Zealand in the team sprint in a new Olympic record time (pic: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com)

In qualifying, Hindes actually went a little slower on the first lap than usual, but Kenny and Skinner got onto his wheel to ensure a perfect start to the ride.

Kenny took lap two, putting Britain ahead of the Australia team who they were sharing the track with and Skinner finished off with a great third lap to set a new Olympic record of 42.562.

Of the other favourites, a big gap for the New Zealanders on the first lap proved costly as the Brits set up a contest with Venezuela, the eighth fastest qualifiers.

The women’s team pursuit team were next up, and went even better – reclaiming the world record from Australia as they qualified fastest for the next round.

Britain were well up on the split times – Australia were the benchmark but had been hindered by a training crash which had left Melissa Hoskins with a badly bruised hip.

Still all together with just two laps to go, Jo Rowsell Shand took a big turn before swinging off and Katie Archibald, Laura Trott and Elinor Barker crossed together to stop the clock in 4.13.620.

Canada and world champions USA were still to ride, but Alison Beveridge swung off early which hindered the Canadian effort.

The Americans, by contrast, set a blistering early pace to threaten the world record immediately but a poor changeover heading into their final 1,000m slowed them and they eventually qualified a second down on the Brits.

The team sprint Olympic Record had fallen again by the time the Brits returned to the track, in the final heat of the next round, with New Zealand clocking 42.535.

A slight delay ensued before the heat, with track officials unhappy with the starting gate, but the Brits appeared undeterred when their ride got underway.

Hindes, Kenny and Skinner guaranteed themselves a medal, setting up a race for the gold medal with the world champions by comfortably winning the heat and going second fastest overall in a time of 42.640 seconds.

Before the final, the men’s team pursuit qualifying got underway – offering a first chance to see how Sir Bradley Wiggins and co were shaping up.

There was a delay beforehand, however, as the Netherlands crashed and the track consequently required some running repairs.

Denmark threw down the gauntlet – a huge final shift from Lasse Norman Hansen helping them to post an imposing 3.55.396.

The British quartet made light work of that time, however – riding close to world record pace for much of their effort.

Owain Doull put in some big shifts on the front, though Wiggins slowed slightly before swinging off with two laps remaining.

Clancy led the way into the final two laps, however, and the remaining trio stopped the clock in 3.51.943 – just a fraction outside their London 2012 record of 3.51.659.

Australia, the final team on the track, finished in 3.55.606 – third fastest in qualifying – to show just how impressive the British performance had been.

The men’s quartet will ride against New Zealand for a place in the gold medal final, while the women will face Canada.

Great Britain’s women’s team pursuit quartet re-claimed their world record as both they and their male counterparts qualified fastest in their respective events (pic: Alex Broadway/SWPix.com)

The first track cycling medals of the Games were on offer to the men’s sprinters, however, and France claimed bronze at Australia’s expense thanks to a great final lap.

Britain and New Zealand then faced off for gold, and were neck-and-neck after Hindes’ first lap – timed at exactly 17 seconds.

Kenny then put the Brits in front on the second lap and Skinner finished it off to mark his Olympic debut in gold medal style – the clock stopping in 42.440.

Rio 2016 Olympic Games: men’s team sprint – result

1) Great Britain – 42.440 (Olympic Record)
2) New Zealand
3) France
4) Australia

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