Victoria Pendleton brought the curtain down on a spectacular career with an Olympic silver medal in the sprint.

The British sprinter lost out to her rival Anna Meares (Australia) in the final despite a narrow win in their first race. In a reverse of their match at the World Championships this year, it was Pendleton who was relegated for coming out of the sprinter’s lane.

In the second race, Meares showed incredible skill to trackstand at the top of the exit of bend three on an impossible gradient. Pendleton couldn’t hold her bike still and was forced to roll around in front of Meares and take the lead.

As soon as Pendleton went to the front, she slowly built her speed over the next two laps and gave Meares an armchair ride to the finish.

It wasn’t the way Pendleton would have wanted to end her career, and may wish the sprint was scheduled before the keirin on the Olympic programme, but a silver and a gold is a fine way to sign off after 23 years of bike racing.

Pendleton retires with nine world titles, two Olympic titles and an Olympic silver. Only Meares comes close to such a haul of accolades.

There is likely to be a tinge of disappointment to the result as the sprint is the one that Pendleton wanted, and viewed the keirin as a bonus. She only missed out on a medal in the team sprint because of another relegation as Jess Varnish was judged to have swung up too early.

“I am just so relieved right now. I am just so overwhelmed with emotion,” Pendleton said after the sprint finale. “I would have loved to have won in my final race. At the same time, I am just so glad I am done and I can move on.” 

Pendleton was gracious in defeat and said of her long-time rival Meares: “I am glad it got to that stage because I believe she’s the best rider on the field. Anna and myself in the final. We have met many a time. I wish her all the best. I am glad to say that this is the last time I have to go through this.” 

However, Pendleton’s second relegation of the Games at the hands of the commissaires obviously stung. “I was really annoyed because I was sure that she [Meares] touched me and it caused me to move up. I cannot believe twice in one competition that I have been relegated, disqualified, it’s unheard of. It’s a bit of surprise. It did knock my confidence a bit, I have to say. I really tried in that last ride. I don’t know. Sorry. This is it. I cannot believe it’s all over.”

London 2012: Live text coverage of cycling events

August 7: Track cycling day six

August 6: Track cycling day five

August 5: Track cycling day four

August 4: Track cycling day three

August 3: Track cycling day two

August 2: Track cycling day one

August 1: Men’s and women’s time trials

July 28: Men’s road race

July 29: Women’s road race

London 2012: Latest news

Sir Chris Hoy looking good as British cyclists look to end with a flourish

GB doing something right says O’Shea

Comment: Hindes’s purposeful crash – fair or foul?

New format for team pursuit explained

Pendleton and Varnish out of team sprint

‘Hot pants’ key to Pendleton and Hoy sprint

Britain’s sprinters looking to continue GB medal haul

Wiggins: Tour was perfect Olympic TT preparation

Olympic time trial round-up

Pendleton warms up for London 2012

Cancellara in, Evans out of time trial

CW eyewitness: Remember the name

Cavendish finds solace in commitment of his team mates

London 2012: Team info

Men’s road race start list

Women’s road race start list

Men’s time trial start list

Women’s time trial start list

Team GB rider profiles

Great Britain track team confirmed

Bronzini leads Italian Olympic cycling team

British Olympic men’s road race team announced

Armitstead and Cooke lead GB women’s road cycling team

London 2012: Event guides

Mountain bike event guide on

Olympic Games men’s time trial: Who will win?

Olympic Games women’s time trial: Who will win?

Olympic time trial routes announced

Olympic Games women’s road race: Who will win?

Olympic Games men’s road race: Who will win?

Download detailed Olympic road race route map

London 2012 cycling schedule

London 2012: Reports

Tremendous Trott eliminates the rest in Olympic omnium

Kenny stuns Bauge in sprint to win second gold

Bronze for Clancy while Pendleton marches on

Pendleton sets new Olympic record to qualify ahead of Meares

Trott, King and Rowsell keep gold medals coming

Kenny lights up a stuttering men’s sprint competition

Track day two: Pendleton and team pursuiters deliver more gold

Track cycling day one: Hoy leads team sprinters to gold

Wiggins wins gold in men’s time trial, bronze for Froome

Armstrong defends Olympic title in women’s time trial

Cycling events medal table

Women’s road race: Armitstead wins silver as Vos strikes gold

Men’s road race: Vinokourov wins as Cavendish misses out

London 2012: Photos

Track day five by Andy Jones

Track day five by Graham Watson

Track day four evening session by Andy Jones

Track day four evening session by Graham Watson

Track day four morning session by Andy Jones

Track day four morning session by Phil O’Connor

Track day three evening session by Andy Jones

Track day three evening session by Phil O’Connor

Track day three morning session by Andy Jones

Track day two by Phil O’Connor

Track day two by Graham Watson

Track day one by Andy Jones

Track day one by Phil O’Connor

Track day one by Graham Watson

Men’s time trial by Graham Watson

Women’s time trial by Graham Watson

Pendleton track training

Women’s road race by Andy Jones

Women’s road race by Graham Watson

Men’s road race by Andy Jones

Men’s road race by Phil O’Connor

Men’s road race by Graham Watson

Team GB road race training on Box Hill (July 26)

London 2012: Podcasts

Cycling Weekly podcasts on Soundcloud


  • Stever

    Nah, she wasn’t tired. No way. The team GB coaches, doctors, and psychologists leave no stone unturned in ensuring that our riders always go to the line in perfect condition. In any case, look at what she does in training, lots more than she did in those three events. Plus, having just gone through a tapering down phase in her training, that’s another reason for her not to be tired. No, she was DEMORALISED after not one, but two disqualifications. She as much admitted that on Breakfast TV today. She wasn’t herself mentally. The rules need to sorted out big time. Sprinting is not supposed to be a contact event any longer, but it’s still done. And in that respect, they don’t come any ‘cleaner’ than Vicki. As I said before, a rider can now make it their strategy, their race winning tactic, to ‘nudge’ a rider in the hope that it will cause them to ride out of lane. And as we have seen, it works. They don’t HAVE to ride one inch apart y’know! they can sprint down the straights two feet apart, but when it comes to Pendleton vs Meares, the latter always wants to get up close and personal, because that way she has a chance of winning. So, the no contact thing needs addressing, some clear guidance as to what is, and what is not acceptable. Because until then, riders will use it to try to get other riders disqualified in the manner that I have explained. If someone is leaning on you, you gotta ‘lean back’ at them so as not to get pushed off the track, and if they suddenly move away or yield quickly, you’re left leaning into nothing and you inevitably move outwards – and quite probably – out of the sprinting line, and disqualified. If the rules say that you cannot move out of the sprinting line during the sprint, then there can be NO contact during the sprint also. The two just don’t go together! We either go back to the old ‘rough and tumble’ days of anything goes, or it has to be squeaky clean – no contact. Anything halfway is a total grey area and open to abuse and induced ‘tactical disqualification’.

  • Richard Braddock

    I agree that Vicki was treated unjustly in the first ride. However, when I watched the 2nd ride I was screaming at Vicki to go in the 2nd last bend but she didn’t seem to have it. I thought she must be ill or tired from doing 3 events. There is no way that the Vicki of Day 1, when she did the Team Sprint would have been overtaken by Mears in the back straight. Congratulations on a fantastic career

  • Andrew

    A wonderful reception in velodrome last night for Victoria, well deserved and proud to have been there. A night to always remember. Will be missed from the track.

  • C Leak

    T Anderson – well said!!

  • T Anderson

    I have enjoyed watching track cycling since 2004, not any more! The last two or three TC events have left my blood boiling.

    The current mens and womens sprint worl champions, didn’t win their titles from a best of three, no it was a commissaire who decided the winners (or losers).

    Did either Gregory Bauge or Vicky lodge a complaint about their opponents coming out of the sprinters line? No. They were both ready to to take the match to a decider.

    These days, watching track cycling on the TV, I spend as much time watching one man, peering into his TV/PC monitor, then talking on his communicator, than I do racing. Competitors want to compete, spectators want to see a competition. But in recent times, the winner is more likely to be promoted up there by a commissaire’s decision, than plane old racing.

    If the UCI are going to scrutinize every little move of the competitors, then the consequences of a misdemeanour need to be proportionate. It’s like awarding a goal to one team every time the other team is off side!! In triathlon yesterday, John Brownlee was given a 15sec penalty, he wasn’t relegated to the back of the field. Unlike Jess Varnish, who was robbed of a medal.

    UCI – Sort yourselves out!!! Track Cycling is descending into a shambolic farce!!!

  • JD

    Pendleton might have nailed that had it happened earlier in the week (she looked to be tiring) but fair enough – Meares is an outstanding racer.

  • Stever

    Victoria Pendleton was robbed in the sprint final. Meares came down the banking, leant on Vicki with her considerable extra weight and bulk, and Vicki, trying desperately to fend her off, momentarily went out of the sprinting line while struggling to stay upright as a result of the physical assault. So who’s to blame? Surely it’s the person who started it, and that was Meares, riding aggressively, leaning on Pendleton. Poor Vicki was just trying to hold her line and stay upright. Saying that, Vicki still managed to win that round by a tyre’s width. Meares then won round two. So, in my book, there’s one more round to go. But no, they gave the gold to the cheat by simply and unintelligently applying a rule without looking into it any further than the fact that a line was crossed. Yup, that line was crossed, but clearly, Meares triggered the event. Vicki was robbed, and the whole world saw it.

  • pdf

    It was a shame to see her broken by the relegation, but these cyclists push the rules as far as possible. As with Philip Hindes, it’s that ruthlessness that makes the difference. If we give it, we should take it too, and Meares was the better rider, beating VP’s better top speed with more of the aggression and tactical riding that makes sprinting so exciting to watch.

  • Colnago dave

    Re disqualifications across the board, don’t you realise that the Olympics and the worlds are when the Blazer Brigade get to go on World Stage

  • roginoz

    Peter has said it all so perfectly . Thank you Victoria !

  • Peter

    Congratulations on a wonderful career, and on being a gracious and charming ambassador for the sport. The relegation in the first race was very harsh and undeserved, particularly coming after the previous disappointment.
    However, thanks for all the memories, and all the very best for whatever you choose to do now.

  • MR

    Excuse me if I’m a little biased, but the replay I watched showed Meares clearly leaning into her, and making contact BEFORE the movement over the line – surely that should have resulted in a relegation?

  • Terry

    She woz robbed again !! Twice in one competition, shame.