Published: 2 August 2012
Report: Eddie Allen
Image: David Davies/PA Wire
Disappointment for Great Britain as Women’s Team Sprint pairing Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish were disqualified from the event in the first round stage, for changing outside of the designated zone, after laying down a blistering ride in qualifying.
Victoria Pendleton was visibly disappointed yet philosophical after being denied the opportunity to tilt for three Golds at London 2012 and spoke to the BBC shortly after the ruling, which came after protracted negotiations between commissaires and GB Cycling Team Performance Manager Dave Brailsford.
“We have never had an illegal change, so we weren't really thinking about it,” said Pendleton shortly after her disqualification was announced. “It's just one of those things that happened. We were probably just a bit too eager and excited for a ride.
"Now and again rubbish things happen and this is one of those days,” continued the multiple world and Olympic champion, who approached the competition in the form of her life. “The only positives I can take is that I know I am in really good form because that was the fastest second lap I have done. I just need to get my head down and concentrate on the races to come."
Pendleton’s disappointment was as much for her teammate Varnish, for whom the Team Sprint was her only Olympic event: "I'm desperately disappointed for Jess Varnish because she has done an incredible job in getting this far.
"Her team sprint today was the best of her life so far. I've no doubt she will be back in Rio and absolutely smashing it. I'm sorry for disappointing all the people that have come to support us and perhaps not offering the ride that we would have done. I'm really sorry."
The disqualification was made all the more disappointing in the light of the GB pairing’s electrifying pace in the previous qualifying ride. In his role as BBC Sport pundit Mark Cavendish said "Jess had a great start but it wasn't the fastest but for Pendleton to be able to bring it like that shows the detail that goes into it, she really brought it back."
On the disqualification, Cavendish commented "It's the Olympic Games, it's the biggest thing and to spend four years getting ready for it only to lose in a fraction of a second is gut wrenching."
Groans around the velodrome joined widespread disappointment on the social media channels as the DQ was announced, Tom Marandola on Twitter said: "Just like baton changes in running sprint relays. I assume the video is conclusive and there is no room for discretion??" while gthorton said “A devastating ruling for Team GB but the precedent had been set that the changeover zone would be strictly enforced.”
Chris Boardman, summarising for BBC echoed the feelings of Great Britain fans while pointing out that the warnings were there following the fastidious judgements imposed in the World Championships in Melbourne earlier in the year: "I was watching the change and Vicky was coming through pretty fast. They are not allowed to overtake. They're trying to make it fair for everyone, the rules are the rules."