Great Britain, Germany earn gold in team sprint events

Team GB sets world record as Chinese world record DQ'ed

This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.

Men's Team Sprint

Sir Chris Hoy ushered the next generation of British talent to gold in the Olympic Games, putting in a blistering final leg of the men's team sprint to help Great Britain to win over France.

Starter Philip Hindes, second man Jason Kenny and Sir Hoy were not content to set the winning mark: they proved both in qualifying and finals that they were the best in the world by going faster than any three men had done over the distance in history - in round 1, they went under the world record mark, set by Germany in 2011 (42.914), with a time of 42.747.

In the final against France's Gregory Bauge, Kevin Sireau and Michael d'Almeida, the British trio went even faster, 42.600 - huge improvements in this short distance - to take home the gold.

In the bronze medal final, Germany's Rene Enders, Robert Forstemann and Max Levy rode consistently quick to best Australia (Shane Perkins, Scott Sunderland and Matthew Glaetzer) by 0.149 seconds.

The men's team sprint began with some opening night jitters, as the first two heats - Poland and Venezuela followed by China and Japan - suffered from starting mishaps. The problems continued in the heat between Great Britain and Germany when the home team's newest rider, Philip Hindes, appeared to dislocate his wheel in the staring gate, and he went tumbling in the first turn. That didn't slow down the British, however, after the re-start they went on to soundly beat the Germans, going 43.065 to the German's 43.710.

Great Britain set a world record of 42.600

France, Australia and Russia were next fastest, with Germany slotting in for fifth over China. New Zealand and Japan made the next round, while Venezuela and Poland headed home. The first round heats determined which countries would race for gold and which for bronze. Germany won its heat over Russia, while Australia beat China.

France easily cruised to the win over New Zealand, setting a benchmark of 42.991, the quickest time recorded of the night, and the first under 43 seconds. But it would soon prove to be second best, as Great Britain whipped the crowd into a frenzy by setting a new world record in its heat against Japan, in 42.747.

Having been relegated in the world championships earlier this year, the British trio would be excused for being a bit more careful in the gold medal round, but careful is not a word one can apply to the team. They rode with confidence, grace and power to better their previous time and bring home their country's second cycling gold medal after Bradley Wiggins in the time trial.

Women's Team Sprint

Germany came away with its first gold medal in cycling of the 2012 Olympic Games, with Miriam Welte and Kristina Vogel climbing onto the top step of the podium in the Olympic velodrome in London.

China's Jinjie Gong and Shuang Guo looked set to win the gold, coming across the line 0.179 seconds quicker than Germany in the final, but were relegated to silver for a botched exchange.

The Chinese women set a world record... then the jury relegated them to second for a lane violation

The stunning news came after the Chinese had already celebrated their victory lap and the Germans had gone off to do their interviews. Once back inside the track, Vogel and Welte were quickly cleaned up and whisked away to the medal ceremony to receive their first gold medals.

The Chinese were not the only team to be hit by relegations: in the first round Great Britain, who went second fastest in qualifying, were penalized for an early exchange by Jessica Varnish and Victoria Pendleton.

Due to the oddities in the Olympic rules, whereby only winners move onto the finals, Britain's opponents Ukraine went up against Australia in the bronze medal final, although the Netherlands were the fourth fastest classified finishers.

Australia beat Ukraine to win the bronze, with Anna Meares adding another medal to her collection, while for Kaarle McCulloch the bronze was a first.

The world record ride of Gong and Guo in the first round was little consolation for the Chinese. The duo set a time of 32.422 in the first round to take that unofficial mark. But the officials showed that like the world championships in Melbourne, they were not afraid to enforce the rules when it came to the finals.

In the Olympics, the format of the women's team sprint differs from that of the world championships. It began with the qualifying round, where ten teams would be reduced to eight based upon the times set in the opening heats. Korea and Colombia were the first to be eliminated from the competition, while at the other end of the spectrum, Great Britain thrilled the crowds by going up against their arch rivals Australia in the opening round and pulling out a 0.3 second advantage by the line in the first of the Pendleton versus Meares match-ups.

Britain's 32.526 was a new Olympic Record, of course as the event makes its debut in the Games, but it also bettered the world mark set by Germany in the world championships in Melbourne. There was very little time for celebration, however, as in the very next heat that record would fall at the hands of China's Guo and Gong, who rode in with a 32.447.

The Chinese pair continued their dominance in the next round, where teams were seeded fastest over slowest, the winners of each heat moving onto the medal rounds. Australia won its heat over The Netherlands, Germany won over France, and the next two rounds would determine who raced for gold and who raced for bronze by time.

Great Britain faced up against Ukraine, and Jess Varnish put in another solid first lap, but disaster struck them at the end of the lap where it was determined that Pendleton had pushed ahead before the exchange line. Even though she put in another lightning fast closing lap, it was later announced the team had been relegated to last place for the missed exchange.

The house was silent as China hammered Venezuela with a new world record pace, going 32.422 to move onto the gold medal final against Germany, who was next quickest once the British team were relegated. The Australians, who were a tenth of a second slower, would face Ukraine for bronze.

When the time finally came for the bronze medal final, Australia easily topped the Ukrainians, going home in 32.727, well ahead. The gold medal final hardly sparked the interest of the British fans lining the stadium, although it was one of the closest line-ups of the evening. The Chinese were ahead by a tenth of a second margin, but it did them no good as Germany won the gold by executing their race within the rules.

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