2014 UCI Track Cycling World Championships coverage | Get into track cycling |
Published: 26 February 2014
Written by: Scott Hobro
Images: Luke Webber
Great Britain’s Becky James and Jess Varnish won team sprint bronze as the 2014 UCI Track Cycling World Championships began in Cali, Colombia on Wednesday.
The pair defeated the Russian team of Elena Brezhniva and Anastasiia Voinova in a time of 33.032 to win Great Britain’s first medal of the competition.
"It was a solid performance tonight," Varnish said.
"It's a really different track to what we've ridden on and you can't really compare it to other performances. I think we should be happy.
"It's a really good start."
Varnish, who missed last year’s event in Belarus due to a career-threatening back injury, rode in the man-one position and together with James qualified third in 33.214 seconds.
In the bronze-medal final, Russia held a slim lead of just over one-tenth of a second at the halfway point but double world champion James managed to overturn the deficit to match the medal win from 2013.
James, who rides in the 500m time-trial on day two, said: "I'll take everything a day at a time. Got today out the way and got a bronze medal. I'll see how each day goes and do my best."
Olympic champions Miriam Welte and Kristina Vogel retained the world title for Germany.
There were no medal rides in the men’s team sprint or team pursuit for Great Britain at the Velodromo Alcides Nieto Patino.
As in 2013, Olympic champions Jason Kenny and Philip Hindes were joined by Kian Emadi in the team sprint.
The trio’s time of 43.617 in qualifying had seen them occupy the medal-ride places but New Zealand, Germany, Russia and France all went faster as Great Britain ended the event in fifth place, having finished sixth 12 months earlier.
New Zealand went on to deny Germany a team sprint double as France took bronze.
“We're disappointed with the result, but the time itself and the way we rode wasn't that bad,” Kenny said. “It could've been a little bit tidier.”
“We're only fractions off and we've definitely made a step forward, particularly from where we were last year. We've been consistently getting better this year, which is promising.
“We've got a lot closer to the lead than we have been. The New Zealand guys were out in front by a little bit of a margin, but everyone else was quite tight. It's just unfortunate everyone is so tight and we just slipped out the second ride.
“We've got the potential to dominate, or certainly to be competitive every time we go out and that's where I'd like to be really.
“We just need to tidy it up. It's very difficult. Last year in Minsk was our last hit-out at full speed and this one was a lot better than that. I guess you've got to take the positives.”
In the men’s team pursuit two-time Olympic champion Ed Clancy was joined by 21-year-old Sam Harrison and 20-year-olds Jon Dibben and Owain Doull but a time of 4:04.419 was only enough for eighth place.
Australia retained the title won in Minsk, beating Denmark with the bronze medal going to New Zealand.
Silver medallists at last year’s championships in Minsk, Great Britain were without former world champion Andy Tennant and Olympic gold medallist Steven Burke, both ruled out through illness.
"We didn't announce it on Twitter, but behind the scenes we've had some problems," Clancy said.
"We knew a week ago our back was against the wall. (But) despite the fact we didn't have a couple of our more established riders in the line-up, we were still hoping to get a ride in the final.
"That's sport. Some days you go better than you think, other days you don't go quite so well. We have tried a bit of a different approach for these track worlds. Perhaps it just hasn't paid off."
"It's like a stack of cards - if one part falls down it all comes tumbling down pretty quickly," Clancy added.
"There wasn't one of us that was really on fire. We've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. We can still get some medals yet."
Olympic team pursuit champion Dani King was eighth in the women’s scratch race as she came home in the bunch.
A late attack from Belgium’s Kelly Druyts and Ireland’s Caroline Ryan escaped the main group and Druyts held on to win the rainbow jersey. Ryan was caught by the bunch with half a lap remaining with Poland’s Katarzyna Pawlowska second and Russia’s Evgenia Romanyuta.
The championships continue on Thursday with the women’s team pursuit and 500m time-trial along with the men’s keirin, individual pursuit and scratch race.