Of all the track riders who were set to profit from the change in the Olympic track programme, Victoria Pendleton was at the top of the tree.
As the stand out female sprinter of the last three years, the Brit looked set to reap the rewards when the IOC announced the team sprint and keirin would be brought in to the women’s schedule at the London Olympics.
But on the evidence of today, Pendleton isn’t going to have it her all own way. In the first of those three events, the team sprint, the six-time world champ had to settle for fourth place, and watch while the Australian duo of Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch twice broke the world record on their way to gold.
Riding with 19-year-old Jessica Varnish, Pendleton was pipped to the bronze medal by the Lithuanian pair by four tenths of a second. China took the silver medal.
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But with Shanaze Reade (with whom Pendleton has won this title twice before) absent, Pendleton said she was satisfied with the ride. “That’s the second team sprint we’ve done in competition, and the first on the world circuit,” she said after her ride. “We know we’re in the mix, we’re not far off the mark.”
Pendleton’s new focus of three Olympic titles will apparently make little difference to her training. “It’s all pretty much the same anyway,” she said. “I’ve just got to practice on maintaining form over a longer period. I’ve won three world titles over a world championships so I know it can be done, but it is a skill. But i’ve got the best person to learn off in Chris [Hoy].”
“It’s mainly mentally more than anything, in terms of switching off when you need to and then switching on again, rather than wasting energy worrying about preparation for the event of psyching yourself up.”
Pendleton’s campaign continues on Saturday with the women’s sprint competition.
2010 Track World Champs: Reports/results
Day two: Thursday, March 25
Day one: Wednesday, March 24
Day one: Meyer and Meares put Aussies on top of the world
2010 Track World Championships: Results
Day one as it happened (text coverage): Wednesday, March 24
Houvenaghel qualifies second fastest in pursuit
2010 Track World Champs: Photos
2010 Track World Champs: News and features
Track cycling: Information