Britons shine in Manchester

Great Britain was the dominant nation at this weekend's World Cup track meeting in Manchester. GB ri

Great Britain was the dominant nation at this weekend's World Cup track meeting in Manchester. GB ri
PICTURE BY PETER COSSINS Great Britain's status as one of the powers of track cycling was underlined when the home team took the overall prize at this weekend's World Cup meeting in Manchester. Britain won three events and there were also promising performances from a number of younger riders who should emerge still further in the run up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The weekend's highlights were many. On the first evening, a controversial decision to drop World Cup kilometre leader Jason Queally from that event for Olympic champion Chris Hoy was vindicated when Hoy stormed to victory in a highly impressive time of 1-01.67. Not bad for a rider with only four weeks of serious training behind him as a result of a long list of commitments following that Olympic success. Australia's Ben Kersten was a couple of tenths behind the Briton in second place, with Germany's Stefan Nimke a distant third. Rob Hayles and Victoria Pendleton also produced medal-winning performances. Hayles is building towards the Worlds in March, but was pleased with his second place to Sergi Escobar in the individual pursuit. Pendleton began a very busy weekend with second place in the women's sprint behind Germany's Christin Muche. Saturday's action was enjoyed by a near capacity crowd, who also had plenty to cheer. The British team pursuit quartet of Rob Hayles, Steve Cummings, Chris Newton and Paul Manning scored an outstanding victory in the team pursuit. They qualified fastest and faced Spain in the final. It was close for a kilometre, but the British four surged ahead from that point and eventually caught the Spanish team in setting an astonishing time of 4-03.033, more than six seconds faster than any other team. The women too were among the medals with Pendleton taking a second silver in the 500-metre time trial behind Russia's Tamilla Abassova, with Italy's Elisa Frisoni third, and Emma Davies finishing second to Australia's Kathy Bates in the pursuit. Bates' victory on the final day in the scratch race put her up among the top performers of the weekend. France's Mickael Bourgain won the men's sprint, giving an early indication of what was to come in the special keirin on Sunday. Saturday concluded with British Paralympian Darren Kenny setting a new world hour record of 41.817km for classification 3 riders. Kenny beat the 10-year-old record held by Britain's Tom Evans of 40.070km. Sunday's main action started with Bates taking a clear win in the scratch race, where 18-year-old Nikki Harris was fifth in home colours, a result that bodes well for her future. The men's Madison was won by the strong French pairing of Jrome Neuville and Andy Flickinger, who is best known for his exploits on the road with Ag2r. Flickinger has a track past and is hoping to combine racing on the boards with his road commitments in the hope of making the French track team for Beijing. Britain's Cummings and Hayles both crashed in an ill-starred outing, the latter's fall forcing them out of the event. If there was disappointment there for home fans, it was soon lifted by a staggering team sprint victory by Hoy, Queally and Craig MacLean. Their winning time of 44.493 over the Polish trio was their third fastest ever. Hoy explained after that it is rare for all three riders to reach this event in great form, but Sunday's effort was one of those occasions. The weekend concluded with the special keirin. None of the Japanese riders who had flown in to contest the big prize of £45,000 made it through to the final stages of the competition. The minor final was won by Britain's Ross Edgar, with the major prize going to Frenchman Bourgain, who led for the final two laps and simply could not be passed. A staggering display to round off another excellent meeting at the Manchester track.
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