Two weeks ago Joanna Rowsell was lying in bed with a chest infection missing crucial training sessions with her teammates on the Manchester track. Tonight she won her second world title in 24 hours.
Rowsell rode a brilliant pursuit to set a personal best in testing conditions and beat five time winner Sarah Hammer (USA) by over a second.
“I can’t believe that ride. That’s a new personal best for me on pretty much an outdoor track, with a five spoke wheel,” Rowsell said after coming off the track.
“I can’t believe I’ve done it, I can’t believe I went that quick.”
Rowsell, who is used to going out fast because of her ‘man one’ training for the team pursuit did just that and was almost a second up after two laps. A lead she held, albeit with the odd fluctuation, to the finish line.
“My start’s my strength. It isn’t the conventional way of pursuiting, but if I can use my strength, get some time in the bank early on and then hang on… that’s what I do in the team pursuit.”
Video: Joanna Rowsell wins gold in the women’s individual pursuit
>>Result of the women’s individual pursuit
Rowsell’s win brought Britain’s medal tally up to three and leaves them in with a chance of achieving Shane Sutton’s aim of six from the Olympic events. There’s a possible medal to come in the women’s sprint, but not from the expected rider.
Defending champion Becky James was dumped out of the sprint by her best friend, training partner and team sprint teammate Jess Varnish after getting her tactics all wrong. “I’ve no idea why we decided to go for those tactics.” James admitted after winning the 5-8th place final ahead of Australia’s Anna Meares and Stephanie Morton.
“People who’ve seen me race in the past know I’m a fast racer from the start and I take things on. This was basically track standing in the back straight with a lap-and-a-half to go, and it’s just not me. I don’t know why I decided to try it here.”
“I was really upset. We talked about the tactics but I should have known, why try something new? I’m pretty clued up when it comes to tactics I just don’t know why I changed it today.”
Varnish will ride against Junhong Lin of China in the semi finals on Saturday.
Colombia gets it’s champion
The men’s points race ensured the success of the championships by producing a home win in the shape of Edwin Avila. The diminutive Colombian hails from Cali and his presence in the race ensure almost all the 7,000 seats inside the arena were taken for the evening session.
Winner of the title in Apeldoorn, 2011, Avila wasted little time in getting the crowd whipped up in to a frenzy by taking laps. But he wasn’t the only one up for the race as the action started from the moment the gun sounded and never let off through the 160 laps.
The Colombian wasn’t assured of the win until the very end as first Eloy Teruel (SPA) and then Thomas Scully (NZL) took the lead in the final 20 laps. But Avila came fighting back with a third lap gain and sent the crowd in to hysterics.
All he had to do in the final sprint was to stay on Scully’s wheel. Keeping in custom with the rest of the action packed race the two battled it out right to the line. Scully pipped him to second place, but with just one point difference between second and third (Ivan Savitckii was 50m off the front on his own) the rainbow jersey was safely on the shoulders of the local rider.
Minutes later every member of the crowd was on their feet singing the Colombian national anthem.
Video: Men’s points race
>> Result of the men’s points race
François Pervis won his second gold of the championships with a blistering ride in the kilo. The Frenchman set a track record of 59.385 seconds to defend his title and beat Germany’s Joachim Eilers who minutes before had become the first man to ride a sub one minute kilo at a world championships.
New Zealand’s Simon Van Velthooven was third, taking a second sprint medal for the Kiwis. Britain’s Kian Emadi was a disappointing 12th, with a time of 1 minute 2.220 seconds.
Video: François Pervis wins the men’s kilometre time trial
>>Result of the men’s kilometre time trial
Images from the opening day of the 2014 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Cali, Colombia