It was a topsy-turvy opening day for Team GB at the 2012 Track World Championships in Melbourne, with joy at gold and a new world record for the men's pursuit team and Ben Swift's gold in the men's scratch race tempered by disappointment elsewhere. Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton, arguably the team's two biggest stars, came away empty-handed in the men's and women's team sprints on a day of drama.
Hoy, Jason Kenny and debutant Philip Hindes were set to compete in the bronze medal race but were relegated for an infringement of the rules relating to illegal changes between riders. Close inspection of the video footage suggested that 19-year-old Hindes was culpable, but despite his disappointment Hoy was keen to defend the youngster.
"We looked at the video and we've got nothing to argue about, it was a very small mistake by Phil," Hoy told BBC Sport.
"He's disappointed but he shouldn't feel the responsibility - experienced teams like the Germans have been relegated as well. It shouldn't happen but we've won and lost championships by thousandths of a second. If you get it slightly wrong then you're out and that's what happened tonight.
"Having said that, that's the first time in 16 years of competing that I've been in a team that's been relegated. This will all be forgotten if it goes well in London, but this is still a world championships and it would've been nice to at least challenge for the podium in the second ride."
Pendleton and Varnish were defeated in the bronze medal race by China, having been beaten by Australia in qualifying. To rub salt into the wounds, their world record was bettered by Germany as they won gold. Pendleton was quick to play down the significance of a fourth-place finish and insisted that there was plenty of time for the British pair to close the gap ahead of the London 2012 Olympics.
"[Germany's Mirian] Welte and Kristina Vogel have both been performing at a high level for a number of years," Pendleton said. "To be honest, it's not surprising they've managed to suddenly find their form and get it together. Tonight was really their night. We can't be disappointed with our ride - they just rode an exceptional race tonight. We're not rolling over yet but tonight was their night.
"We're only talking a couple of tenths or so, it's not a massive amount of time, and we've got a lot more to come in terms of fine-tuning our performance. What we've done already has been a massive achievement and more than I expected, really."
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