The team pursuit trio of Lizzie Armitstead, Jo Rowsell and Wendy Houvenaghel won Great Britain?s first gold medal at the end of the second day of competition at the track worlds ? the fact that the wait felt like an eternity highlights the change in expectations of this team.
It was the sixth medal to be won by British competitors, putting them at the top of the table on total medals, and there?s almost certainly more to come, but whether or not they will be gold is not so clear.
There were some in the British camp who feared that the first gold was never going to arrive. Before the women?s team pursuit final team GB had lost three out of three gold medal rides, and the qualifying times for the pursuit were too close to call a clear winner.
The Brits were without world and Olympic champion Rebecca Romero (who on the day was back in Britain picking up her MBE) and in her place was Armitstead, a 20 year old who had never won a senior world medal.
What she had done however was produce the stand-out performances during the winter long world cup series. Here, riding alongside Houvenaghel and Rowsell, who finished second and fourth in the individual pursuit, she produced another. Holding her own with the two stronger pursuiters, Armitstead helped the trio bring their time down to 3.22 minutes to win gold and retain the title they won in Manchester last year.
With the GB team lacking many of their Olympic champions, and with the ones that were riding coming down off of their Beijing peak, there was a need for one of the newer, younger members to step in and galvanise the team ? and that?s what Armitstead could yet do.
The all rounder from Otley is still to ride in the scratch and points races, and will be one of the favourites in both. Although she alone can?t produce the kind of medal haul of previous years, her performances could provide proof that with over three years still to go the British team are already looking good for the next Olympics.
Not that anyone else is failing.
The British sprinters have obviously come down from their massive high of last year but are still more than competitive. Victoria Pendleton took her second medal of the championships as she rode to silver in the team sprint with Shanaze Reade, while in the men?s keirin both Ross Edgar and Matt Crampton made it to the 1-6 place final.
They eventually finished out of the medals, but in terms of Olympic cycles, this is likely to be their lowest point as they start rebuilding from here, and fourth and fifth in the world isn?t bad if that?s a bad as it gets.
WIGGINS FINDS A CHALLENGER AT LAST
What these championships have proved is that the other nations aren?t prepared to roll over and give up in the wake of the last two years of British performances. Bradley Wiggins?s rides in the pursuit have been the most dominant of all these, but if the Garmin-Slipstream rider does decide to defend his pursuit title in London he?s unlikely to have it all his own way.
Yesterday saw the emergence of American Taylor Phinney who now looks the most likely challenger to Wiggins?s crown. The teenager put in two solid rides with times just shy of Wiggins?s best.
But the question remains, will this tempt Wiggins in to leaving the pursuit behind him, or will it inspire him to return to the boards and go for a third gold in 2012?
2009 UCI TRACK CYCLING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
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The CW Hub: Track World Championships index
Women’s team pursuit: Britain clinch gold
women’s team sprint: Reade and Pendleton score silver
Men’s scratch race: Cavendish marked out of contention
Men’s individual pursuit: Phinney wins gold
Men’s team sprint: France beat Britain
Men’s Points Race: Newton gets bronze
Women’s individual pursuit: Houvenaghel beaten to silver
500m TT: World record for Krupeckaite, bronze for Pendleton
NEWS AND FEATURES
Track worlds day one: steady start for team GB
Why there’s no Brit in the individual pursuit
No individual pursuit for Britain at track worlds
No room for complacency in British Cycling: Iain Dyer interview
Cavendish in the frame for Scratch race world title bid
2009 Track Cycling World Championships preview
Crampton set to fill Sir Chris Hoy’s team sprint spot
2009 World Track Champs GB squad named
Hoy to miss world track champs
Track World Championships: British medal winners
CW’s Dummies’ Guide to Track Racing
GB RIDER PROFILES
2008 TRACK WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS LINKS
Full results from the 2008 track worlds
Report: Sunday, day five>>
Report: Saturday, day four>>
Report: Friday, day three>>
Report: Thursday, day two>>
Report: Wednesday, day one>>