If on the first night of competition on the Laoshan track the British team landed a firm punch to the solar plexus of the other nations, tonight they delivered the knock-out blow.
Two golds, a silver and two bronzes, plus gold and silver guaranteed tomorrow, has just set up the very real possibility of the Brits medalling in every single event, and the way they?re riding you wouldn?t bet against it.
One stunning performance after another was delivered by every British rider who stepped onto the track tonight, as the other nations virtually rolled over and conceded. The Brits aren?t just winning, they?re winning clearly, as well as sweeping up other medals that they really shouldn?t have been challenging for.
The British team is so far ahead of the other nations that it was almost possible to forget that this is the Olympic Games, where every rider from every nation should be at their best.
To try and put tonight?s performances in perspective it?s worth remembering that UK Sport set the British cyclists a target of six medals in total ? they won five today. They now have four golds, two silvers and two bronze medals. Take into consideration the gold and silver that will end in the British camp tomorrow courtesy of the women?s individual pursuit, and the British cycling team alone would now sit tenth in the overall medal table.
There were so many exceptional performances that it?s impossible to know where to start. Wiggins cruising to gold in the pursuit? Or maybe with Chris Hoy dominating the Keirin to such an extent that they might have well just given him the gold and let the others ride for silver.
But then that?s doing a massive disservice to Ross Edgar who took a magnificent silver in the Keirin, which served to compound the misery of the French and everyone else who thought they were coming to Beijing to compete to win.
And what of Chris Newton, taking bronze in one of the most unpredictable, and tactically-demanding races on the track programme after a season blighted by injury?
Perhaps what best sums up Team GB?s performance tonight is that of Steven Burke. The 20-year-old wasn?t planning to ride at this year?s Olympics. Six weeks ago he got the nod and was supposed to ride the first round of the team pursuit in order to rest Bradley Wiggins for the later rounds.
One day before the start of competition he was selected for the individual pursuit as neither Geraint Thomas or Mark Cavendish wanted to ride. Burke had no time to do any specific training; thrown in at the deep end being an understatement.
Tonight he walked out of the velodrome with a bronze medal round his neck having ridden faster in every round eventually bringing his personal best down to 4-20 minutes.
Bradley Wiggins?s gold in the individual pursuit was, in all fairness, a sure thing. No one had gott close to Wiggins’s times and he duly defended his title (becoming the first rider in the history of the event to do so) and set up his triple gold medal challenge.
Only now he?s one of two British cyclists chasing this tally after Chris Hoy added to his Team Sprint gold with one in the Keirin. Tomorrow he rides qualification for the individual sprint and in the form he?s in you?d be foolish to bet against him. Hoy won the Keirin with time to spare, and his opponents’ only hope in the sprint will be to out wit him.
There is now so much confidence in the British camp that Newton?s medal in the points race came as no surprise. Newton won the World Cup classification in the points race last winter to book his place in Beijing, but the Brit has not had a good season since.
Three weeks before the world track championships in March, Newton was out on a training ride and was knocked off his bike when a car driver opened their door in front of him. He broke his collarbone and was out of the world champs, and his Olympic place looked in jeopardy.
To make matters worse his Rapha-Condor-Recycling team struggled to get the invites they needed to the stage races that are so crucial in allowing a road rider build his form.
But on the evidence of tonight, build it he did. Newton not only survived a tough race he was one of three riders to dominate it and only lost the silver medal in the final sprint. The gold medal went to Joan Llanares of Spain.
Newton’s was another of the ?unexpected? medals GB collected, as was Ross Edgar?s. Although no medal for the British team will ever be described as such again.
Now THAT’S a winning margin. Chris Hoy shows just why he is the best sprinter in the world at the moment. Ross Edgar takes the silver.
|OLYMPIC GAMES 2008: TRACK|
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Day two at the track: Summary of the action
Hoy and Edgar clean up in the Keirin
Wiggins gets pursuit gold, Burke wins bronze
Newton storms to bronze in points race
Blog: Life in Laoshan
Day one in pictures
Brits blast to team sprint gold
Day one at the track: Summary of the action
As it happened on Friday: Gold for team sprint trio; Wiggins, Houvenaghel and Romero well in control
Burke blasts to new individual pursuit PB
British track stars raring to go
What makes the Laoshan such a challenge
Picture special: CW takes you inside the Laoshan velodrome
Can these legs make an Olympic champion?
Cavendish unlikely to ride individual pursuit
How many medals will Britain’s riders win?
|OLYMPIC GAMES 2008: NEWS|
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|OLYMPIC GAMES 2008: ROAD|
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|OLYMPIC GAMES 2008: GUIDE|
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