BRITAIN?S Olympic hopefuls have been testing their track legs at this week?s British championships on the refurbished Manchester Velodrome, headed by Victoria Pendleton who launched her countdown to Beijing by winning the women?s 500 metres time trial title for the sixth successive year.
Last to start in the competition, Pendleton was slower than Anna Blyth over the opening lap but finished strongly to win in 34.825 seconds, one-fifth of a second shy of her own championship record set 12 months ago.
Pendleton went on to break her own championship record in the 200-metres time trial round of the women?s sprint, clocking 11.392 seconds before breezing her way through to the final and a decider for gold against Blyth.
Ross Edgar regained the men?s sprint title, beating Chris Hoy in two straight rides in the best-of-three final. The two then teamed up with Marco Librizzi, replacing injured Craig MacLean as lead-off man for Scotland, to head the qualifiers in the team sprint by over a second with their time of 45.736 seconds.
Jamie Staff, another of the team sprint candidates for Beijing, won his first national track title in the kilometre time trial.
Former world champion Chris Newton claimed his third national 40-kilometre points race title, but had to settle for the silver medal in the 20-km scratch race behind 19-year-old Olympic Academy rider Steven Burke.
Scotland?s Kate Cullen won her first women?s scratch race gold before retaining her points race title.
With Bradley Wiggins and David Millar electing not to ride, four-times champion Paul Manning was the fastest qualifier from the opening round of the 4,000 metres pursuit in 4 min 24.165 sec, just over a second quicker than Ed Clancy whose 4-25.438 beat his previous best by nearly six seconds.
TRACK NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: PROGRAMME
Only final rounds shown.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 2
Women’s 500m Time Trial
Men’s Kilometre Time Trial
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 3
Women’s Scratch Race
Men’s Points Race
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 4
Disability Individual Pursuit
Women Points Race
Men’s Scratch Race
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5
Disability 200m Time Trial
Men’s Individual Pursuit
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 6
Women’s Individual Pursuit
Disability Time Trial
Team Individual Pursuit
British Cycling: www.britishcycling.org.uk.