The opening session of the 2012 UCI Track Cycling World Championships saw Great Britain and Australia dominate the Team Pursuit qualification with Great Britain setting the fastest qualifying time in history to set up a thrilling Final in front of a packed Hisense Arena.

And what a Final it was with the lead swinging back and forth by a few thousandths, lap after lap… Add some controversy in the Team Sprint, a dramatic end to the Men’s Scratch Race and two World Records and it was quite an evening!

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Men’s Team Pursuit

The opening stages of the Men’s Team Pursuit suggested that things would run pretty much to form. Belgium put in a decent ride and posted a 4:02.317, just behind Spain who stopped the clock at 4:01.717. But with the all the talk of World Record pace training sessions, it was clear that it was going to take a sub 4:00.000 to make the Final.

New Zealand were the first team to dip under the four minute mark – clocking 3:59.156 – and Heiko Salzwedel’s Russia – back on form after a disappointing winter – came close to knocking them off the leaderboard with a 3:59.20.

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Great Britain were in the penultimate heat and set a blistering pace to finish on 3:54.485 – the fastest time ever recorded outside a Final. But the Aussies flew out of the gate and opened up a 1 second lead by the 3km mark. They faded in the last kilometre but still had a lead of three tenths going in to the last lap – a lap in which they’d lose half a second over their great rivals. Sandbagging? Possibly, although it didn’t look like it. Either way, it looks like a great Final in store and, quite possibly a new World Record.

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1 Great Britain 3:54.485 (Edward CLANCY, Peter KENNAUGH, Andrew TENNANT, Geraint THOMAS)
2 Australia 3:54.654 (Glenn O’SHEA, Jack BOBRIDGE, Rohan DENNIS, Michael HEPBURN)

3 New Zealand 3:59.156 (Aaron GATE, Sam BEWLEY, Westley GOUGH, Marc RYAN)
4 Russia 3:59.290 (Artur ERSHOV, Evgeny KOVALEV, Alexey MARKOV, Alexander SEROV)

Full Results

After the qualification rides, the result of the Final was probably not a great surprise – the nature of it was. Lap after lap the lead changed by hundredths of a second – first in Great Britain’s favour, then in Australias. On several occasions the gap was just a few thousandths. It wasn’t until the closing kilometre that the Great Britain quartet – with Steven Burke substituting for Andy Tennant – started to pull away. With a lap to go they were three tenths up but Australia hadn’t given up and pulled two tenths back but it wasn’t enough – Great Britain took the Gold and the second World Record of the evening.

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New Zealand had to dig deep in the Bronze Medal ride-off with Russia taking a healthy early lead, but in the end it was a comfortable win for the Kiwis as they put pressure on the Russians and Salzwedel’s men crumbled.

GOLD Great Britain 3:53.295 WR (CLANCY Edward, BURKE Steven, KENNAUGH Peter, THOMAS Geraint)
SILVER Australia 3:53.401 (O’SHEA Glenn, BOBRIDGE Jack, DENNIS Rohan, HEPBURN Michael) 

BRONZE New Zealand 3:57.592 (GATE Aaron, BEWLEY Sam, GOUGH Westley, RYAN Marc)
4 Russia 3:59.237 (ERSHOV Artur, KOVALEV Evgeny, MARKOV Alexey, SEROV Alexander)

Full Results

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