Two Gold medals for GB Cycling here at the Velodrome on a dramatic first night of finals in the UCI Track World Championships, part of the London Prepares Olympic Test event.
Jess Varnish and Victoria Pendleton set a new world best time of 32.754 seconds when defeating Australia’s Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch in the team sprint. The Australians had themselves only set that record earlier today.
Undoubtedly the capacity, predominantly British crowd present, helped considerable as Victoria Pendleton said later.
“It is unbelievable, the crowd just roared ” adding “I was shaking on my bike.”
“I think it says we’re a force to be reckoned with. We’re quite a new team and we tried something a bit new with the gears in the final, and I think we learned something.
“It’s a risk you’ve got to take – now is the time.”
Team mate Jess Varnish was equally happy : “I can’t believe it, I need to pinch myself. It feels like a dream.”
One worry for the British cyclists though is if they can repeat such a performance in the Olympics when the then sell out crowd will include hundreds of Olympic VIPs and a considerable number of overseas fans. Today was a unique “British 6000 sell out crowd”.
It is an exceptionally fast track and further world records are sure to fall by the time the meet ends on Sunday.
“It was a wall of noise the whole time, and it was only qualifying in a test event,” according to Ed. Clancy, one of GB Cycling’s gold medallists in Beijing2008 , “I cannot imagine what it will be like in the Olympics. It was mental. We had to keep a lid on our emotions.”
Later this evening the GB women’s team of Dani King, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell defeated Canada in 3:18.148 to clinch Gold in the pursuit final. Disappointment for Northern Ireland’s Wendy Houvenhagel who was omitted from the final having taken part in the qualifying.
There was though a big disappointment for the home fans when the GB men’s sprint team had to settle for Bronze in 43.781 . Sir Chris Hoy, Ross Edgar and Jason Kenny lost to Germany in the semi-finals with the German side taking gold tonight when they overcame France in the final.