Victoria Pendleton believes that defeat at the World Championships could be a blessing in disguise for Great Britain’s women’s pursuit team.
Their extraordinary unbeaten run, stretching back to 2010 and spanning 11 major titles, came to an end on Thursday when Australia beat them in the final on the new St Quentin en Yvelines velodrome in France. The British riders could not match the Australians, who also shaved three seconds off their world record as the Aussies set an astonishing time of 4:13.683.
Despite the setback, Pendleton, a six-time sprint World Champion, argued that defeat might spur the team on to greater heights.
"It's important to be pushed in order to get the best out of yourself and move forward,” she told the BBC. “It's hard being at the top and maintaining momentum - you need an external force or a setback to make key changes to move on when you plateau a little."
"The best thing would have been a gold medal but the second best thing is to take the positives from this performance, build on it and use the experience."
The team pursuit quartet of Laura Trott, Jo Rowsell, Elinor Barker and Katie Archibald are itching to get to Rio next year and avenge their defeat by Australia.
"[It's] definitely better [to lose] this year than next year,” Rowsell told British Cycling. “I was thinking, 'Enjoy that while it lasts, girls, it's only going to last a year'."
Trott said: "It's disappointing. We are used to being on the top step so it was a different feeling. But we rode a PB, quicker than we've ever been before at sea level, and for us that is a massive step. It also shows we have work to do. You have to have four girls going good on the same day. And they did.”