Brits set boards alight on new Olympic track

Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish produced two world record-winning performances for Britain Friday

Photo: AFP

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LONDON (AFP) — Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish inspired Britain to produce two world record-winning performances Friday as Britain underscored their gold winning potential at the London velodrome.

However on the second day of the World Cup meeting, which doubles as an Olympic test event, the Olympics kings from Beijing were given plenty of food for thought ahead of this summer’s Games.

After earlier seeing Australian pair Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch improve their own world record by clocking 32.828sec for the two-lap event, Pendleton and Varnish rose to the challenge in the final to set an improved mark of 32.754.

This London Olympics will be Pendleton’s last, where she is set to compete in the individual and team event in August. “We were pleased this morning, so I can’t even explain to you how good it feels to have the world record. The Australians took it for a while, then we took it back,” said Pendleton.

Meares will be among the biggest threats to Pendleton’s Olympic title in the individual sprint in London, having beaten the Englishwoman to the world title for the first time in 2011. Along with McCulloch, Meares has a chance for two Olympic gold medals as the team sprint makes its Olympic debut in August.

Despite having to settle for team sprint silver here Friday, Meares and McCulloch — the two-time world champions in the event — promise to redress the balance at the world championships in Melbourne in April.

“We would have loved to have won here, it’s just not happened but what we can take from this is riding in front of a very large British crowd, against the British team, and we can go from strength to strength,” said Meares.

McCulloch added, “At the end of the day it’s about Anna and I putting the best performance we can out on the track and we did that tonight. But you know what? This is only a stepping stone for us. We’ll be better at the worlds and we’ll be better in London, you can bet your bottom dollar on it.”

Australia’s women were celebrating for the second time when their pursuit trio of Josephine Tomic, Amy Cure and Annette Edmondson beat the USA’s world record of 3:19.569 on their way to bronze in 3:19.164.

Minutes later, Britain’s Laura Trott, Danielle King and Joanna Rowsell showed impressive form over 12 laps to win the event and regain their world record in 3:18.148.

“We knew it was on,” said Rowsell. “From training we’ve been riding above world record pace for the last few training sessions. We knew it was in the tank. We’re really pleased we’ve got that world record back.”

Britain’s men meanwhile bounced back from a mediocre fourth place performance in qualifying for the team sprint to win the bronze against Australia.

World champions Germany, meanwhile, put their Olympic gold winning credentials on display by outclassing the French in the final.

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