Britain’s women’s team pursuit squad can claim no better than bronze

Published: Thursday 3rd March 2016 by The News Editor

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Great Britain’s once-invincible women’s team pursuit squad can claim bronze at best after a ragged qualification ride on day two of the Track Cycling World Championships in London.

Britain have won six of the previous eight world titles in the women’s team pursuit, which for the last two years has taken place over four kilometres, with four riders.

They were silver medallists a year ago as Australia ended a four-year unbeaten streak, but now Britain are playing catch up once again.

Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell Shand, Ciara Horne and Elinor Barker clocked four minutes 21.034 seconds to finish fifth.

Britain can ride off for bronze, but not gold, and only if they are one of the fastest teams in the second round.

The United States were the fastest qualifiers in 4mins 16.180secs, with Canada second, New Zealand third and Australia fourth.

Trott and Rowsell Shand won gold at London 2012 when the event was over 3km, with three riders, and celebrated by singing along to ‘Hey Jude’ as Beatle Paul McCartney watched on.

The event had been seen as Britain’s ‘banker’ in recent years, but that now seems long ago in a worrying development ahead of the Rio Olympics.

The team were without one of their strongest riders after Katie Archibald suffered a knee injury in a motorbike crash which earned a stern rebuke from British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton.

Archibald’s sense of guilt may have increased as she watched on from the stands and saw Trott and Barker power away from Rowsell Shand and Horne.

The time is taken on the third rider, so Britain’s lack of coherent teamwork was to their detriment.

It was the equivalent of dropping the baton in an athletics relay.

Britain will meet China in their first-round heat on Friday. The quickest two of the third to eighth-placed teams will advance to the ride-off for bronze.

British Cycling head coach Iain Dyer said: “It’s a disappointing performance. There’s no way of dressing that any differently.

“What we’ve got to do is turn it around and get ourselves back into medal contention tomorrow. We can still ride for bronze.

“We’ve got to look at the data today and work out the best way to go forward from here.

“Naturally we would’ve liked Katie to have been at the races. She’s a strong rider in the team and she’s nearly back to her best.

“We have known for a long time we wouldn’t have Katie in London for the World Championships. We tried to give it our best shot here and it didn’t pan out.

“It’s fair to say it wasn’t as cohesive (a performance) as it could’ve been.”

Dani King, a London 2012 gold medallist alongside Trott and Rowsell Shand in London, switched focus to the road after the Games.

She had intended to return to the velodrome and returned last summer, but British Cycling encouraged her to stay on the road, with the track event having moved on in her absence.

Dyer added: “Dani trained with us for a good spell. We were able to see her up close.

“The event is very, very different from when Dani was Olympic champion and being 33 per cent longer as a discipline really does change the dynamic considerably. I’m confident the right call was made.”

Published: Thursday 3rd March 2016 by The News Editor

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