A day after falling apart in the qualifying round, Great Britain’s women’s team pursuit squad delivered a faultless performance to take the bronze medal at the UCI Track World Championships. There could hardly have been much more difference between the two rides as Britain went nearly five seconds quicker on Friday evening to beat New Zealand than they had on Thursday.
The result showed that their failure in qualifying had been just a small blip. “It was really important. I guess yesterday we were a little bit disappointed. It didn’t go the way that we knew it could. Today it did,” Laura Trott told the press on the way to the podium. “Team pursuit is all about gelling as a team, and today showed that we do gel together as a team. We put the performance out there that we can put out there.”
Great Britain had been one of the favourites for the gold medal going into the competition but things went wrong in the final quarter of the qualifying event. They posted only the fifth fastest time, meaning they would have to set one of the two fastest times in the next round to be in with a chance of bronze. After the disappointment, they came out all guns blazing in the first round, passing their competition, the Chinese, and setting a new national record to book their place in bronze medal final.
Speaking to the press after the race, Joanna Rowsell-Shand said that their collapse in the qualification had been down to being too strong rather than the latter.
“The Americans really raised the bar in qualifying and we went out to try and chase that and we failed. We could have ridden a conservative 4:19 but we do that in training on training wheels, so what would we have learned from that. We went out there to race, we fell apart but it is about pushing the boundries rather than just settling for second best,” Rowsell-Shand said.
“We didn’t see the point in riding so conservatively so we went out to push the boundaries and we obviously went past those boundaries but it is elite level sport, you can’t just sit there at second best, you’ve got to go out there and to try and win. We tried that and we failed yesterday but we come back fighting today and we showed what we do have.
“I think it showed yesterday that we were all in good form and I think that if anything it was a little bit dangerous because maybe we have the ability to go too fast. We’ve learned from that and we’ll come back again in Rio faster for the whole four kilometres.”
The women’s team pursuit at the 2016 World Championships has seen several national records being broken and the World Record come close to falling. Rowsell-Shand is sure that there is even more to come in Rio and she’s hoping to be two steps higher on the podium too.
“I think that we’re going to see something around 4:10 tomorrow in Rio. 4:13 is the current World Record and I think that we’re going to see that come tumbling down,” she said. “We’ve got five months more hard work to put in and there are five teams that are really pushing for the win with America, Canada, us, New Zealand and the Aussies.
"The Aussies came away with fifth today after winning last year so they’re going to come out fighting. I think it’s going to be one of the best events of the games so watch out because we’re going to be going for gold.”