Great Britain take two more titles at the world track championships thanks to their men’s team pursu
The world track championships in Los Angeles became a battle for supremacy between two nations on Saturday night in Carson velodrome as the Great Britain team and the Netherlands battled for the remaining gold medals. By a hair’s breadth, it was Team GB who came out on top, winning gold in both the men’s team pursuit and then, to widespread surprise, an unexpected gold in the women’s match sprint through 24-year-old Victoria Pendleton. In the team pursuit final, GB’s experienced quartet of Rob Hayles, Chris Newton, Paul Manning and Steve Cummings were too accomplished for a young Dutch four, with a time of 4:05.619. Australia, after three consecutive world titles, took the bronze ahead of New Zealand. But the greatest outpouring of delight came for Vicki Pendleton’s gold, ahead of Tamilia Abassova of Russia, after a tight match sprint competition in which the Briton competed with a new-found conviction and self-belief. “After the Olympics I had a couple of months when I didn’t know where I was going,” she said, “but then I started working with the team psychiatrist. He talked me around and made me see the logic rather than the emotion.” Victory in the team pursuit brought GB veteran Rob Hayles his first gold medal at this level after more than a decade representing the national team. “We’ve waited a long time for this,” he said. “It felt horrible – the gear was small, which was a good sign because it meant that we were quick. Had it got heavy towards the end then we would have been in trouble. Maybe not the most pleasant way to win a title I’m sure, but definitely one way,” smiled Hayles. Hayles first wore a British team jersey in the world junior championships in 1990. He admits that a lot has changed since then. “What sums it up to me is that the general public know what we do. I don’t have to explain myself as a cyclist any more. Now they understand what track cycling is.” Hayles has watched the development of the GB team for well over a decade. “It’s down to money, but if it’s not implemented properly it’s not going to work. Right across the board we’re doing well and that is because of the people that we’ve got here. There’s a real level of professionalism. Gone are the days when you get one racing skin-suit at the start of the year and then have to give it back at the end of the year.” In other disciplines, Australia took gold and silver in the women’s individual pursuit through Katie Mactier and Katherine Bates, respectively. Switzerland’s Karin Thuerig claimed the bronze. But with Britain currently holding three golds, and the Netherlands having won two golds, the battle to be the nation of these championships has developed into a two-horse race.