A young Australian quartet delivered the country’s first team pursuit world title since 2006, but it was an incredibly close final against Great Britain in Copenhagen.
Just 0.152 of a second split the two teams on the line as they each produced impressive three-minute 55-second rides. The Australians were up from the start but lost Rohan Dennis a kilometre out. The other three had to dig very deep to hold of the challenge of the British team, which stayed intact.
The Australian team of Jack Bobridge, 20, Dennis, 19, Michael Hepburn, 18 and points race champion Cameron Meyer, 22 – who came in for the final – were even younger than the British squad of Steven Burke, 22, Ed Clancy, 25, Ben Swift, 22, and Andy Tennant, 23.
The question now is how much faster can they each get between now and the Olympics in London? Great Britain, of course, have the ace card in that they can bring Geraint Thomas back into the line-up.
The bronze medal went to New Zealand, who beat the home team, Denmark. The Kiwis also produced sub-four-minute rides in qualifying and their bronze medal race.
But the final was a thriller, contested by two very well-matched line-ups. In qualifying Great Britain were fastest with a 3-56.869 to Australia’s 3-58.185. In the end it came down to the fact that the Australians were able to produce the bigger improvement on their earlier ride. The Aussies haven’t been that fast since the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Great Britain’s fifth man, former kilometre Olympic champion Jason Queally, who is in the process of converting to the team pursuit, did not get a ride in either round.
Australia’s fifth gold medal sealed their dominance of the 2010 Worlds.
Also on Friday, the women’s sprint competition got underway. Victoria Pendleton (Great Britain), qualified only seventh fastest in the flying 200-metre time trial but looked in good form when the match sprints got underway. She beat her team-mate Jessica Varnish in the 1/16 final, then got past French rider Clara Sanchez to reach the quarter-final. She beat Victoria Baranova of Russia 2-0 and will face Australia’s Anna Meares in Saturday’s semi-final.
The other clash in the last four will be between China’s Shuang Guo and Lithuania’s Simona Krupeckaite.
Teun Mulder, the Dutchman, broke Stefan Nimke’s record for a kilometre time trial ridden at sea level, as he won the world title for the first time.
Mulder’s time of 1-00.341 was set quite early on and for a while it looked as if no one would go close. In the end, Michael D’Almeida of France was the only other rider to break the 1-01 barrier. His French compatriot Francois Pervis took the bronze. David Daniell’s 1-02.033 earned him seventh place.
French rider Pascale Jeuland won the women’s scratch race, holding off the Cuban Yumari Gonzalez Valdieso and Australia’s Belinda Goss. But the moment that was replayed over and over on the big screen was a bad crash in the final third of the race.
It happened in the middle of the track and sent several riders flying. The Dane Julie Leth then slid down the banking into the path of other riders. Shelley Evans of the USA crashed straight into her and landed heavily but was helped up by the doctors. Anna Blyth struggled in the second half of the race, slipping off the back of the already fractured bunch. She finished 20th.
WORLD TRACK CHAMPIONSHIPS 2010 BRIEF RESULTS
Day three, Copenhagen
1 Teun Mulder (Netherlands) 1-00.341
2 Michael D’Almeida (France) 1-00.884
3 Francois Pervis (France) 1-01.024
7 David Daniell (Great Britain) 1-02.033
Men’s team pursuit
1 Australia 3-55.654
2 Great Britain 3-55.806
3 New Zealand 3-59.475
Women’s scratch race
1 Pascale Jeuland (France)
2 Yumari Gonzalez Valdivieso (Cuba)
3 Belinda Goss (Australia)
20 Anna Blyth (Great Britain)
After day three
1 Australia – 5 gold, 2 bronze
2 USA – 2 gold
3 Great Britain – 1 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze
4 France – 1 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze
5 Netherlands – 1 gold, 1 silver
6 Germany – 1 gold, 1 bronze
7 Denmark – 1 gold