Great Britain’s women’s team pursuit squad retained their world title in a thrilling final against Canada, taking Britain’s first gold medal of the 2014 UCI Track Cycling World Championships.
The British squad of Laura Trott, Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker and Joanna Rowsell qualified fastest by two seconds in blustery conditions in the afternoon session in Cali, setting up a gold medal final against the ever-improving Canada.
The final saw Canada go off hard in the opening two kilometres, opening up a one-second lead and putting Great Britain on the back foot. Half a kilometre later the Canadians lost a rider and the British quartet began to fight back.
Into the final few laps and the world champions were back in the lead but cracks were beginning to show as Elinor Barker lost a wheel and was forced to change on the straight, forcing Laura Trott to chase back on.
Great Britain stopped the clock on 4:23.407, over a second ahead of their rivals but Canada had given Trott, Archibald, Barker and Rowsell their toughest test yet.
"The change to 4k really suited the Canadians," said Elinor Barker after the race. "They've just shown they are really strong at this distance. They really pushed us.
"You can hear the way the cheers circulated where they are on the track. We could feel them breathing down our necks a little bit, but we managed to pull it back in the end.
Of her decision to change mid-straight Barker said: "I just could not hold those wheels. It was so fast.
"It was a split-second decision and I haven't spoken to my coach yet about whether it was the right thing to do or not.
"I just had to get out of the way and let the girls carry on with it. It was that close that we just would've lost it if I'd stayed on the front."
Laura Trott said: "A perfect ride is always nice, a stripey jersey is a stripey jersey so I guess that's all that matters.
"I'm not sure what happened to the Canadians, they ended up with three riders so they also didn't have a perfect ride so you get lucky sometimes I guess and that's what happened."
Joanna Rowsell added: "We were riding to our schedule in the first half of the race and our coach kept telling us we were down. We were panicking a bit, thinking it's never going to come back.
"It was just a race all the way to the line, everyone gave their all and I think we were all on our knees at the end there."
Katie Archibald found herself in the dream position of taking a world title in her first world championships and acknowledged the performance of the Canadian outfit.
"We’ve been pretty close for a while now, the second round of the world cup it was quite obvious they’d closed the gap quite a bit, so it’s more exciting."
Australia took bronze, catching the Poland squad with around a kilometre to go.
Earlier Becky James set a personal best of 34.021 in the 500 metre time-trial but it wasn’t enough to earn a place on the podium in a hotly-contested event. After her bronze medal in the team sprint the previous day, James was unable to add to her 2014 medal tally, finishing seventh.
Victoria Williamson finished tenth with a 34.305 ride after leading the competition in the early stages, with gold going to Germany’s Miriam Welte in 33.451 ahead of a resurgent Anna Meares of Australia and Russia’s Anastasiia Voinova.
Jon Dibben finished 14th in an explosive scratch race which saw 2013 world champion Martyn Irvine of Ireland take silver behind Russia’s Ivan Kovolev. Cheung of Hong Kong took bronze.
Dibben was involved in a five-man break mid race, attempting to get on terms with Cheung and Kovolev who had taken a lap earlier but only Irvine could gain the lap necessary to contend for a medal position.
Reigning world champion Jason Kenny had to settle for fifth in the men’s keirin after colliding with Germany’s Max Levy in the last lap of the final. Kenny was attempting to chase down the leaders, headed by eventual winner Francois Pervis of France, but made contact with Levy. The German went down hard and Kenny’s managed to stay upright, but the Briton’s medal chances were gone.
After the event the 25-year-old from Bolton said: "(The crash) just left me floating around at the top of the track and totally out of the race."
Matt Crampton’s medal hopes faded in the second round. Drawn in the same heat as Kenny, Crampton led for much of the race before dropping back to fourth just behind his teammate, who had to fight his way through from the back of the pack to qualify for the final. Crampton went on to win the minor final, out-dragging Australia’s Shane Perkins and Christos Volikakis of Greece.
Like the final, the second round saw a spectacular crash, with Matthew Glaetzer’s bike ending up in the crowd after the Australian lost control in the final lap.
Great Britain’s Kian Emadi exited the keirin in the first round, unable to find a way back through the repechage.
It was an early exit too for Owain Doull in the men’s individual pursuit competition, the 20-year-old finishing 15th in a time of 4:28.193, with the world title going to Alexander Edmondson of Australia who beat Switzerland’s Stefan Keung in a thrilling final. Mark Ryan of New Zealand took bronze beating Ireland’s Ryan Mullen.
Friday sees the start of the women's sprint and the men's omnium plus the women's individual pursuit, men's kilo and points race.