day after day in the velodrome.
Thursday in the velodrome was pretty damn good with gold medals and world records but it was topped by Friday. Victoria Pendleton, the women’s and men’s team pursuit produced one hell of a night as they delivered gold medals and world records.
The men’s pursuit quarter were here to defend their title won in Beijing. It had been a long hard four years since that victory which had seen them not regain their form until nearly the last minute. A time in which Geraint Thomas had made the tough choice to focus on the track and not accompany Brad Wiggins in the Tour only to see him demoted out of the four to then drag himself back into it. Then be suffering food poisoning only a week ago. Peter Kennaugh riding for his professional team, Sky, injured his pelvis during the Giro d’Italia in May, spending some time confined to a wheelchair.
In qualifying the day before they broke the world record, in round one they were just outside it. In the final they again smashed it along with the Australians. Nearly one second under the record and nearly three ahead of their main competitors that again weren’t in the picture as the GB three crossed the line. from the off you knew it was a done deal, Clancy got them off to a great start and they were in the train before the Aussies figured themselves out. At one point the gap between them came down a bit then they just upped things to produce an almost perfect race.
Victoria had to make amends for the error the previous night, luckily for her she had the chance for redemption in the keirin, unlike like here sprint partner, Jess Varnish, and what a job she did. She also had to follow the great ride by the men’s pursuit quartet. She’d breezed past her main, bitter rival, Anna Meares in the first round. It sent a message. Semis went with ease. Between which she either sat or warmed up in a focused zone, oblivious to yet another gold coming GB’s way.
In the final as the derny exited the track Meares powered to the front, a reply to that message sent out by Pendleton earlier. But from fourth with about 300 metres to go Pendleton stormed past the field, Meares looked at her and it seemed to deflate the Australian as she dropped back down the field, it was an immense attack. The field came back to Pendleton but she found that extra bit to beat the Chinese rider, Guo Shuang, by half a wheel.
It was a great moment for Victoria and you hope she enjoys it this time round and that it relaxes her just that right amount for her final rides in competitive cycling, in the sprint. Tears of joy and relief on the podium during the national anthem. Queen Victoria titles that’ll be filling the newspapers today, well deserved.
A word also has to go out to Lee Wai Sze of Hong Kong who won the bronze and looked the happiest rider in the whole velodrome we’ve seen over these two great days of competition.
During all this the women’s team pursuit trio, Dani King, Joanna Rowsell and Laura Trott, came out of the well of the track, set another world record by half a second and then disappeared back from whence they came.