Great Britain Cycling Team began their UEC European Track Championships challenge in Grenchen, Switzerland on Wednesday with both men’s and women’s team pursuit squads dominating qualifying.
In the men’s event, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Andy Tennant, Steven Burke and Owain Doull set a time of 3:57.277 to qualify for Thursday’s first round and a ride against Russia.
Burke started Great Britain’s challenge with a storming opening effort, leaving the team a third of a second up after the first kilometre, an advantage that grew to half a second at the halfway point. The gap remained until the final kilometre, when the team really opened up where previous teams faltered, stretching their advantage to almost two seconds at the line.
Owain Doull, part of the team that won the European title a year ago in Guadeloupe, was pleased with a ride that measured up to the team's pre-race hopes.
"We didn't really know what to expect coming in because we've been doing a lot of training into it," said Doull.
"That was the aim to do something around that time and have a nice smooth consistent ride. Yeah pretty successful."
Earlier the quartet of Joanna Rowsell Shand, Laura Trott, Elinor Barker and Ciara Horne also qualified fastest, stopping the clock at 4:21.089, over nine seconds faster than nearest challengers Russia.
Great Britain’s ride started strongly, quickest after the first kilometre and by the halfway mark, the team were almost three seconds ahead. At a kilometre go, Rowsell Shand dropped away, having shouldered some massive turns early on and the gap was up to five seconds.
But the best was saved for the final kilometre with Ciara Horne leading the team home.
Horne, who made her international track debut for Great Britain at the 2014 European track championships, was pleased with the performance.
"Really happy - we qualified fastest. It was a really good, solid team effort, really chuffed,” said the 26-year-old from Warwickshire.
"We were trying a new strategy and yeah it worked really well so happy with that."
The squad will face Poland in tomorrow’s first round, riding for a place in the medal finals.
The competition continues on Thursday with the conclusion of the team pursuit, with Great Britain’s men’s and women’s team sprint squads also out to earn crucial Olympic qualification points.
Matt Gibson is also expected to compete for Great Britain in the men’s scratch race, the talented 19-year-old having already won both European team pursuit and scratch titles at under-23 level.
Elinor Barker is also scheduled to ride the points race in the first full day of competition at Velodrome Suisse.
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