Record-breaking rides for US and British women's pursuit teams
National records were sent tumbling in the afternoon session on day three of the Track World Championships, with the USA and Great Britain both putting in storming rides in the first round of the women's team pursuit. The USA clocked 4:14.806 in booking their place in the gold medal ride, which is just over a second shy of Australia's World Record, while Great Britain successfully made it to the bronze medal ride with 4:16.350.
The two rides could hardly have come in more contrasting circumstances; while USA broke their record for the second time in as many days, shaving nearly a second and a half off their brilliant qualifying performance, the British record came off the back of a shambolic qualifying ride in which the quartet split and ruled themselves out of gold. Top of the team pursuit world for so long, the British women's invincibility was broken by Australia at last year's Worlds and, after Thursday's setback, this was a strong response in the face of adversity.
"It was great way to bounce back; it was exactly what they needed to do," British Cycling coach Iain Dyer told Cyclingnews.
"Obviously there was disappointment [yesterday]. There were a lot of learning points to come out of it, so we took things into today and I thought the team did a great job in turning things around. It’s a big boost for them, no question. The challenge yesterday was to turn it around, come back and be better today, and they’re well on the way to doing that."
As for the USA, who are riding high at the moment, they are the hot favourites in tonight's final, where they will bid to win a first ever women's Worlds gold medal for their nation. Not just that, but there is the growing possibility of the world record falling here, as it did in France 12 months ago.
"A World Record in the third ride is going to be difficult but the most important thing is the world title," US coach Jim Miller told Cyclingnews.
"The girls were on the limit in that last ride but maybe it could have been a little bit smoother. The line up will be the same for the final. The first goal is really for us to get the world title."
Vogel brings back Olympic memories with keirin gold
Kristina Vogel affirmed her love affair with the London velodrome on Thursday as she returned to the scene of her Olympic gold medal to take another rainbow jersey at the Track World Championships. Whereas at the Games four years ago she triumphed as part of a team sprint duo, this time it was an individual gold in the keirin, the title she won as part of a highly successful Cali Worlds two years ago.
“I always have special memories here – winning an Olympic gold – and to come back to win a jersey here, it’s amazing,” Vogel told Cyclingnews and a couple of other journalists after pulling on her latest rainbow jersey.
“My skin is always crawling, you have the crowd here and you push that bit further here, they’re screaming. It’s so funny, I love to race here.”
Vogel, who took delight in pulling off her tactic of getting her nose in front early and holding on to her lead, took her tally of Worlds golds to seven and, as well as giving her added confidence for the individual sprint on Sunday, it was a significant marker to lay down in an Olympic year.
“Before the Olympic games in London I won a world title, and after that I went on to be Olympic champion, so who knows…" she said with a grin.
Nervous Wild unable to stifle Trott
Kirsten Wild admitted to pre-race nerves going into the women’s Scratch Race and it was indeed her most feared competitor, Laura Trott, who prevented a second consecutive title for the Dutchwoman.
Wild rode a cagey race, doing next to no work on the front and watching Trott’s wheel like a hawk for the majority of the 40 laps. The plan was to let Trott work to chase down any attackers, before picking her off in the sprint, but the home favourite produced a sensational ride, taking the responsibility and powering home for gold.
“I was the defending champion so I was a bit nervous – I wanted to do really well. I made a really good plan with my coach, tried to stay calm and give the pressure to the other riders. I think that worked well, there were some girls at the front and the bunch kept riding, so that was good for me,” Wild told Cyclingnews while warming down on the rollers.
“She [Trott] was the biggest rival. My only chance to outsprint here was when she’s getting more tired than me. She was doing more work than the others and I hoped that it would work but she’s really strong. I wasn’t surprised.”
Wild was happy with her silver medal and, after a short holiday, she will being the several-month countdown to Rio, where she’ll line out in the Omnium, with Trott set to be favourite once again.
“This is good for the head and I’m happy,” she said. “The strongest will be at the Olympics. Everything has to go really well but I think it’s possible. It’s a dream for me.”