Britain smash team pursuit world record on way to gold
Britain smashed their own world record in a time of 3min 53.314sec to end a 100-year wait for Olympic team pursuit gold here on Monday.
Denmark claimed the silver medal, their first at the Olympics since a bronze at Barcelona in 1992, while New Zealand beat Oceania rivals and defending Olympic champions Australia to claim the bronze.
The British quartet of Bradley Wiggins, Ed Clancy, Paul Manning and Geraint Thomas produced a disciplined display of racing over 4000 metres to leave their Danish rivals with no chance. Denmark began well but faded in the closing stages and eventually finished nearly seven seconds behind in a time of 4:00.040.
Wiggins, who successfully defended his individual pursuit crown on Saturday, now has three gold and six medals in total from three Games, confirming his status as Britain's most decorated Olympic cyclist. The 27-year-old from London will aim for a third gold in Beijing when he pairs up with Mark Cavendish in Tuesday's Madison race.
But Wiggins said he is still coming to terms with claiming Britain's first gold in 100 years.
"I'm not really thinking about tomorrow to be honest. This is just a relief more than anything else," he said. "We knew we were going to win, but to actually do it while you're under a bit of pressure is just so great."
With three finals - the men's and women's sprint and the men's Madison - closing the competition Tuesday and with Britain favourites in all of them, their gold medal tally is bulging. Of the seven finals held so far, Britain have won five and claimed nine of the 21 medals awarded.
Wiggins admitted he had no idea they had it in them to break their own world record, set when qualifying for the final in a time of 3:55.202, by two seconds.
"We didn't realise what kind of time we had. We thought we might beat the record, but not by three seconds," said the Englishman, referring to the world mark of 3:56.322 set in the world championships in March. "We knew the gold wasn't ours by right and that we had to give our best performance."
England's Paul Manning admitted the victory was sweeter than being the fastest in the world.
"We gave 100 percent and that's what you get. To me the medal is more important than the record," said Manning, one of the riders, along with Wiggins, who got the bronze in Sydney in 2000 and silver in Athens. "I got bronze in Sydney and silver in Athens. Gold is what we wanted."
Women's points race: Vos takes cycling talents to Olympic level
Dutchwoman Marianne Vos made up for missing out on Olympic road silverware by being crowned track cycling's points race champion after a stunning ride in the final on Monday. Yoanka Gonzalez of Cuba secured the silver medal with Leire Olaberria of Spain winning the bronze, both riders securing their medals on the 10th and last of the race's intermediate sprints.
Vos, the reigning world champion in the 100-lap race, virtually sealed her first Olympic gold when she put her bike into overdrive to gain a lap on the peloton over six hard laps of riding on her own. That gave the 21-year-old Vos a decisive 20 points, a tally of 30 and a 20-point lead over second placed Maria Luisa Calle of Colombia.
A crash early in the race which took down American Sarah Hammer, Japan's Satomi Wadami and Trine Schmidt of Denmark caused a scare in the peloton. And after just 20 laps Vos was trailing at the back.
But by lap 63 of the race she had recovered enough to launch an audacious bid to gain a lap on the peloton, which she achieved on lap 69.
"The crash was early in the race and after 20 laps I was already pretty beat," said Vos, who failed to live up to her hopes of a medal in the women's road race and time trial. "I was just able to gain a lap at the right moment. After that I just tried to recover."
In an exciting finale to the race, she simply kept watch on her rivals to make sure none of them imitated her earlier feat. A number of attacks came and went, and while Calle and Gonzalez were consistent in searching out the points Vos simply counted down the laps.
"A couple of laps before the end I knew (she had won)," added the Dutchwoman, who was in tears as she saw her national flag hoisted above the podium.
It took until the final few laps, however, for the silver and bronze to be decided.
Gonzalez and Calle sat in joint second going into the last of the 10 sprints, where five, three, two and points are picked up by the first four riders over the line. But Gonzalez took command at the front of the peloton to add a further five points, taking her tally to 18.
Despite sitting on 13 points, Calle's bid for silver or bronze was far from secure. In the event of riders finishing with the same number of points, the one who finishes ahead of the other on the final sprint takes precedence.
Olaberria had only 10 points ahead of the final sprint, but the Spaniard sprinted to second place behind Gonzalez to take her tally to 13, picking up the bronze and leaving Calle down in fourth place.
Men's sprint: Hoy and Kenny set for gold duel
British duo Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny are set for an historic clash in the final of the coveted Olympic sprint after making light work of their rivals in their respective quarter-finals on Monday.
Scottish track king Hoy, already a double gold winner in Beijing, dominated audacious young Malaysian Mohd Azizulhasni Awang in their quarter-final leg to book his place in the last four.
Hoy, 32, will now meet Mickaël Bourgain in Tuesday's semi after the French ace defied the tactical prowess of the Netherlands' three-time world champion Theo Bos, whose speed, in the end, let him down.
Reigning Olympic kilometre champion Hoy said he is ready to face Bourgain, a rider he physically towers over but for whom he has masses of respect.
"I raced him at the World Cup, he's a fast rider and he's been a medallist for the past decade," said the Scot. "He deserves every ounce of respect he's earned."
Bourgain retains hope that he can cause an upset and go faster than the man who, in recent days, his rivals have likened to a motorbike. But the Frenchman knows it won't be easy.
"He's not unbeatable. We'll see tomorrow," Bourgain said of Hoy, adding that he was determined not to let Bos's intimidating tactics get the better of him. "It was hard today, but despite his efforts I didn't let myself get intimidated."
Before his failure to make the sprint and keirin finals at the Manchester world championships in March, where Hoy won both titles, Bos was considered a force to be reckoned with. And after spending the past four years aiming to go better than his silver in Athens, the flying Dutchman admitted his world has come crashing down.
Echoing Australia's beaten sprint and keirin 2004 Olympic champion Ryan Bayley, who said he would take a year out from the sport on Sunday, Bos said he was now "unsure" of what the future held.
"Make no mistake, ever since I was young I was waiting for this moment. Day in day out, 24 hours a day I've been working on it," said Bos, whose brother Jan is a champion speed skater with two Olympic silver medals. "Now my world has collapsed, but I have to accept this and the conclusion is I just came short this year."
Kenny meanwhile is proving to be one of the revelations of the Games' track cycling events. A product of the British track programme's Olympic Academy, he made France's Kevin Sireau look amateur with a display of fluid, and ultimately rapid racing which saw him dominate his 21-year-old rival over two legs. The 20-year-old from Bolton will now meet Germany's Maximilian Levy, who left Netherlands without a sprinter in the semis by disposing of Teun Mulder.
A final between Hoy and Kenny would be the first time ever, and the first between compatriots at the Games since the all-American final in 1984.
Hoy is confident the efforts of the last few days have not left him short of his aim.
"It's been a long four days, but I feel strong," said Hoy, who raced to team sprint gold with Kenny and Jamie Staff on Friday. "I'm giving 100 percent of my focus to tomorrow's race, but what happens will happen."
Women's sprint: Pendleton to meet Kanis in Olympic sprint semis
Victoria Pendleton of Britain boosted her bid for a first Olympic gold by easing into the semi-finals of the women's sprint tournament on Monday.
Pendleton dominated Simona Krupeckaite of Lithuania over two legs of their quarter-final to book a semi-final clash on Tuesday with Willy Kanis of the Netherlands.
In another quarter-final Anna Meares dominated Frenchwoman Clara Sanchez over two legs to book a place in the last four only seven months after escaping permanent paralysis following a racing crash which left her in a wheelchair.
Australian ace Meares, who won 500metre time trial gold and sprint bronze in Athens, will now meet China's Guo Shuang in her semi-final on Tuesday.
Guo disposed of veteran Natallia Tsylinskaya over two legs.
Kanis qualified for the semi-final after a comfortable two-leg win over world keirin champion Jennie Reed of the United States.
Krupeckaite, Tsylinskaya, Sanchez and Reed will now race for the little regarded fifth to eighth places.
Pendleton, a three-time world sprint champion, is on the form of her life and Kanis will have to produce something big if she is to beat the Englishwoman.
© AFP 2008