A day after their male counterparts finished fastest in qualifying, Great Britain’s women’s team pursuit squad struggled in their first heat at the Track World Championships on Thursday afternoon.
The quartet – comprising Joanna Rowsell Shand, Laura Trott, Elinor Barker and Ciara Horne – recorded a time of 4-21.454, which left them fifth in the standings.
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The team’s one-and-a-half lap turn strategy worked OK for the first 2,500 metres, before a tiring Horne, and then Rowsell Shand, could only manage a lap and half a lap stint at the front of the train respectively.
Both were then dropped, and as Trott and Barker rode on at speed. Rowsell Shand crossed the line several seconds behind the pair.
GB will ride against China in the next stage, and will need to produce the second quickest time from what are effectively repechage heats to qualify for the bronze medal final, the most they can now salvage from the event.
It’s a remarkable turn of fortunes, given the squad were unbeaten in the discipline between 2011 and last year’s Worlds; what once looked to be a likely gold medal in Rio no longer looks a shoe-in.
USA topped the standings, posting a national record of 4-16.180, beating Canada by over four seconds. Reigning world champions Australia placed fourth, just behind New Zealand. The winners of the USA/Australia and Canada/New Zealand first round heats tomorrow will square off for gold.
Before then, the British men’s team will face Italy in the first round at 4.30pm, and are expected to make the gold medal ride-off that will take place tonight.
Andy Tennant will replace Jon Dibben in the one change from the line-up who competed in yesterday’s qualifying heat.