British rider wins team pursuit gold before refocusing on the road
Great Britain successfully defended its Olympic team pursuit title, shattering its own world record as it beat Australia in the gold medal ride on Friday. The foursome of Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Steven Burke and Peter Kennaugh finished in a time of 3.51.659 to break the record established the previous day in training. For Thomas at least, it could signify his last appearance on the world track stage.
"It's great. It's what we've trained for since November, and it's been so much hard work and expectation. To deal with all that and put together the rides we did, it's amazing. You don't really think about it until after the ride, the emotion and how you're going to feel but it's just crazy," Thomas said after picking up his second Olympic gold after being part of Britain's pursuit team in 2008.
Thomas had pinpointed the track programme towards the tail end of last year, sacrificing a road schedule that could have included the Tour de France.
"In November after the road season, we had Dave Brailsford and Shane Sutton stopped me from going to see a Rhianna concert because we had training on the track the next day. It's just been that intense since November and now for all that work to now pay off today, it's just fantastic," he said.
I said from the start of this year that it was all about getting gold in my home Olympics and that's what I wanted to do. It's just fantastic to finally achieve that goal and after so long thinking about it and talking about it with the boys, it's amazing."
The British team road to victory saw it qualify fastest, beating a world record set at the world championships earlier this year. That ride placed the squad in a heat against the Danish team and after advancing through it met the Australians in the final match up. With home advantage and expectations at boiling point Thomas added that the team's first ride had helped the home squad.
"It definitely helps to relax you. There's always a bit of anxiety and wondering how you're going to get on so to get that first rider under the belt felt good. With the Australians we weren't too sure how to take that ride to be honest, and we thought they may be holding back a bit. But we didn't get too complacent."
"Then it was just a case of getting to the final and riding the splits we knew we could. We knew if we did that then they'd really struggle to beat us. Luckily they didn't."
Thomas's track career will now take a back seat - although he did not rule out another venture onto the boards in 2014 - as he turns his attention back to the road and his progression with Team Sky. A holder of the white jersey in two previous Tours and with a promising set of Classics results behind him, London may well be his track swansong.
"There's always the Commonwealth Games where I might ride the track, but team pursuit, I don't know. I'm definitely going on the road in the next few years. There is a lot on the road that I want to go for now and achieve. We'll see how it goes. If it doesn't quite go the way that I want then I could quite easily come back to the track and target that again but we'll play it by ear."
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