Steven Burke, Ed Clancy, Steven Burke and Bradley Wiggins come within a whisker of breaking world record in men's team pursuit qualifying at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

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Great Britain’s set the fastest time during the men’s team pursuit qualifying round in the Rio Olympics to come very close to breaking the world record on Thursday.

Sir Bradley Wiggins, Steven Burke, Owain Doull and Ed Clancy put in a finely-tuned performance to set a time of three minutes and 51.943 seconds over 4,000 metres on the Rio track. The ride was the second fastest in history, and just short of the world record of 3-51.659 set by GB at the London 2012 Games.

None of the eight other squads came anywhere near GB’s time. Australia started quickly, but faded as they progressed in their ride to finish third quickest behind GB and Denmark. The Australian quartet’s time of 3-55.606 was 3.66 seconds slower than Britain.

Great Britain will now face fourth fastest qualifier New Zealand in the next round to see if they can book their place in the gold/silver medal final on Friday. Denmark will ride against Australia.

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The Netherlands suffered disaster during their qualification as one of their riders crashed after a touch of wheels. As the team were already down to three men, it meant that they could not finish and therefore failed to qualify for one of the eight places in the next round.

Earlier in the evening, Great Britain’s women team pursuiters had also posted the quickest time in their qualifiers, setting a new world record – and later, GB’s team sprinters took gold and set a new Olympic record in what was a perfect start to the nation’s track campaign.

Men’s team pursuit qualifying result
1. Great Britain 3-51.943
2. Denmark 3-55.396
3. Australia 3-55.606
4. New Zealand 3-55.977
5. Italy 3-59.708
6. Germany 4-00.911
7. Switzerland 4-03.845
8. China 4-05.152
9. Netherlands [did not finish]