Solid start for Britain
Great Britain completed the opening day of the first Track Cycling World Championships on the road to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics without a gold medal, but with a satisfactory silver and a surprise bronze.
After Becky James and Vicky Williamson, making her senior World Championships debut, finished third in the women's team sprint, silver was claimed in the men's team pursuit, an event in which Britain won world and Olympic gold in 2012.
Two of the London Olympic-winning quartet - Ed Clancy and Steven Burke - were present in the squad which lost the world champion rainbow jerseys to Australia. Clancy, Burke, 2012 world champion Andy Tennant and Sam Harrison qualified second fastest and were unable to overturn their seeding, finishing in four minutes 00.967 seconds, to their rivals' 3mins 56.751secs.
Australia led throughout the 16-lap final, even though Glenn O'Shea dropped out entering the final kilometre, leaving Alex Edmondson, Michael Hepburn and Alex Morgan to hold off Britain in the finale.
Clancy, who experimented with the team sprint earlier this winter before reverting to his usual discipline, said: "It does hurt to lose to the Aussies, but it's an Olympic programme. It's bike racing, you can't win all the time. It's disappointing, but if you don't look at it so black and white there's a lot of positives."
While there was a sense of disappointment for Clancy and co, for James and Williamson there was joy. The 19-year-old Williamson was a late replacement for Jess Varnish, who has a back injury, while James was fulfilling second-lap duties previously occupied by the now-retired Victoria Pendleton.
James allowed a gap to open up by going up the banking coming into the changeover to allow her to accelerate into her lap. The technique was devised in the last session of the Newport training camp ahead of travelling to Minsk.
James, who made up deficits in each of her rides, said: "We just thought we'd try something new and because my form's come through quite nicely we wanted to get as much speed as possible off the lap. I'm just absolutely buzzing. I'm so shocked. I can't believe it, my first world medal."
James will now ride in the 500 metres time-trial on Thursday, the first of three individual events in which she is targeting further success. Williamson, who received text messages of support from Varnish in the build-up to Minsk, said: "I'm gobsmacked. To come out with a bronze medal is just amazing."
Kian Emadi competed in the corresponding men's event, the one-kilometre time-trial, placing an impressive fourth on his debut. Emadi clocked 1:01.756, with Francois Pervis of France winning in 1:00.221, New Zealand's Simon Van Velthooven second in 1.00.869 and Germany's Joachim Eilers third in 1:01.450.
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