Hosts Britain set a record setting gold trail that left their rivals shattered on the second day of competition at the world track cycling championships Thursday.
Britain promptly made amends for the negative news of Robert Hayles failing a pre-competition blood test Wednesday, which led to his temporary suspension, by dominating all three of Thursday’s finals.
Bradley Wiggins, who defended his world title in the individual pursuit on Wednesday, led home a victorious quartet that defended their team pursuit title in a new world record time of 3min 56.322sec.
Denmark, who had dominated the qualifying session, failed to cope with the hosts’ pace which handed them gold to shade Australia’s old world mark of 3:56.610.
Australia survived some late drama – when Brad McGee had to slow down to wait for the disorientated Graeme Brown – to beat New Zealand to the bronze.
Victoria Pendleton and Shanaze Reade then linked-up in the women’s team sprint to overpower China in the final, before Rebecca Romero capped an historic night by winning the women’s individual pursuit title.
“It’s great to have the world record. It just feels brilliant,” said Olympic champion Wiggins, who like last year has claimed world titles from both pursuit events.
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 Beijing 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 Brown, who was part of the quartet that set the world record in Athens four years ago.
While Britain have been working intensely to make sure they defended their title on home soil, with the record also a possibility on the fast Manchester boards, Australia are a work in progress.
McGee admitted they have plenty of work to do if they are to beat Wiggins and co. in Beijing, but the reigning Olympic team pursuit champion said they now have something to work towards.
“Now it’s up to them to maintain their intensity right up till (Beijing). 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,” he said.
“I think we’re going to see some very spectacular racing in Beijing.”
For now, these championships are all about Britain and the successful continuation of a long-term track plan that was put in place nearly a decade ago.
Britain’s readiness to pick up proven champions with a steely determination to succeed gave them another gold medal Thursday thanks to former Olympic rower Romero.
Romero, who won an Olympic rowing silver at Athens in 2004, clocked a winning time of 3min 30.501sec to beat the two-time defending American Sarah Hammer.
After her silver medal last year in Mallorca, where Hammer secured her second consecutive title, Romero will now bid for the rare feat of winning medals in two separate sports at the Games.
“Now’s the tough part, following on from that. It’s only upward now,” said Romero, who is world champion barely two years to the day she was first put on a bike for a trial here at the velodrome.
Britain’s gold trail was completed by Pendleton and Reade, who combined perfectly in the two-lap team sprint to leave China with a deserved silver medal.
While Pendelton is the defending world sprint champion, Reade is the relative newcomer having joined track through her first love of BMX, in which she is a reigning world champion.
Pendleton is the favourite to win sprint gold again, and for the first time in the modern era she could be joined by a British male teammate.
Scotland’s Chris Hoy, the reigning world kilometre and keirin champion, launched an audacious bid for the coveted sprint crown by ousting defending champion Theo Bos in a three-leg thriller.
He will now face Italian Roberto Chiappa in Friday’s semi-finals, when Kevin Sireau and Mickael Bourgain meet in the other, all-French, semi.
It was the first time that Bos, the silver medallist at the Olympics in Athens, had failed to win a sprint round since 2005.
For Hoy – also the first man to take Bos to a decider in three years – that didn’t matter.
“People see him as invincible, but nobody’s unbeatable – and today I proved that.”