Reigning champions Britain defended their team pursuit title in a new official world record time of 3:56.322 at the world track cycling championships in Manchester Thursday.
Denmark finished second to claim the silver medal while Australia overcame some late race drama in their duel with New Zealand to claim the bronze.
Australia, the Olympic champions, had set the previous world record in the 16-lap, 4km event in a time of 3:56.610 in Athens in 2004 and they were quick to congratulate their new world pacesetters.
Denmark had posted the fastest time of qualifying in 3:57.734 to claim their place in the final as Britain, the only other team to go below the four-minute mark, clocked 3:58.983.
However, the Danes, one of the up and coming powers in the endurance event, quickly lost touch as the British quartet of Edward Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Paul Manning and Bradley Wiggins powered their way around the boards.
After a quarter of the race Denmark were already 0.527 behind the leading pace and by the halfway mark they had slipped to 1.162 behind. They then lost Michael Faerk Christensen in the last quarter of the race.
Britain stayed focused on their task, and the quartet finally came over the finish line to rapturous applause.
“The Danes had given us a bit of a scare in the morning, but we knew we could pull it together and go faster in the final,” said Wiggins, who claimed his second gold medal in as many days having defended his individual pursuit crown on Wednesday.
“It’s great to have the world record. It just feels brilliant.”
It was Britain’s third world title in the team pursuit, following their victories in 2005 and 2007.
However, as the build-up to the Olympics gathers pace, they are likely to be pushed all the way by the former world record holders.
“For us, this is just a stepping stone for Beijing,” said Australian Graeme Brown, who was part of the quartet that set the world record in Athens four years ago.
Two other members of that team raced on Thursday, Brad McGee and Luke Roberts, with the only one missing being Brett Lancaster.
McGee has only returned to his former passion of track fairly recently with a view to helping the Aussies defend their title.
The Monaco-based rider from Sydney pointed out that while Wiggins and co. are all practically full-time track riders, they are all following various careers on the road. And he said Australia now has an extra reason to get to work in the coming
“They performed to the level that them, us and everyone else expected of them, and good on them because obviously the pressure was on them at their home world championships and they’ve come up with the goods,” said McGee.
“Now it’s up to them to maintain their intensity right up till (Beijing),” he added. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’re on the way up and that’s a very powerful thing to ride with. I think we’re going to see some very spectacular racing in Beijing.”
For more reports, results & photos from the track world championships, see Cyclingnews.com.
© BikeRadar & AFP 2008