GB golds mask Euro sprint error

Ed Clancy (right) leads the GB men's team pursuit squad in Apeldoorn

The British men’s team pursuiters are world bronze medallists

Great Britain’s male and female team pursuiters won gold medals as track cycling’s European Championships began in the Netherlands on Friday.

Both successfully defended titles they won at 2010’s inaugural elite European event, then Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish added women’s team sprint gold.

But the men’s team sprinters, including Sir Chris Hoy, finished a shock fifth after start trouble in qualifying.

Jason Kenny’s wheel slipped as the team began their run.

A piece of timing tape on the track beneath the wheel was later cited by the British team as one possible cause, and the tape had been changed by the organisers in time for the evening session.

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I clearly overtook Jason to trigger a false start but the officials didn’t fire the gun so we had to continue

Chris Hoy

“[It’s a] frustrating start to the championships,” Hoy, who competes in the individual sprint on Saturday, wrote on his official Facebook page.

“On the plus side my lap was quick so all I can do is focus on tomorrow.”

Britain’s sprint coach, Jan van Eijden, said: “We’re not going to blame anyone. Jason Kenny slipped on his second down-stroke.

“The back wheel slipped but there’s nothing we can do now except go home, review the procedure and hopefully do better.

“It’s better that it happened here rather than at the Worlds or Olympics.”

The error cost 23-year-old Kenny about half a second, more than enough to push the British team out of contention even though they made some of that time back.

These championships, part of a new Olympic qualification system, are seen by the British team as a major stepping-stone to London 2012.

Points earned here are added to a two-year running total in each of the 10 Olympic track cycling events, with the top nations awarded berths at the Games once the rankings close in April 2012.

The sooner Britain earns the points it needs, the better, though qualifying the new maximum of one place (or team) per event is not expected to be a problem.

Victories in both team pursuits and the women’s team sprint represent the perfect outcome for British Cycling. Fifth place for the men’s team sprint is a minor setback to that Olympic point-scoring ambition, but not sufficient to concern Van Eijden.


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  • Men’s sprint: Matt Crampton, Sir Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, Jason Queally
  • Women’s sprint: Victoria Pendleton, Jess Varnish
  • Men’s endurance: Steven Burke, Ed Clancy, Peter Kennaugh, Andy Tennant, Geraint Thomas
  • Women’s endurance: Dani King, Joanna Rowsell, Sarah Storey, Laura Trott

“We’re well ahead in Olympic qualification at the moment so we won’t be affected by that. We lose a few points but it’s nothing to worry about,” he said.

His team’s qualifying time of 44.933 seconds was just 0.297 outside that of fastest qualifiers France – who eventually won silver behind Germany – but it left them unable to contest even bronze and means Jason Queally, who had been earmarked to ride in any medal contest, will not get a European outing.

Britain were one of several teams to experience starting difficulties, and mechanics could be seen working on the velodrome’s start gates during an interval.

Track officials initially insisted that while the start gates had been last-minute replacements, on loan from the Dutch federation once the previous gates proved incompatible with the timing system, they were not malfunctioning.

However, after Van Eijden suggested slippery tape on the start line could be one reason for Kenny’s demise, it was noteworthy that the tape had been changed for the evening’s races.

And when the German women’s team pursuiters twice failed to get out of their start gate, organisers abandoned the gates for the night and switched to manual starts, where officials hold riders upright.

Men’s team pursuiters Ed Clancy, Pete Kennaugh, Steven Burke and Andrew Tennant – swapped into the team after Geraint Thomas had competed in qualifying – ignored these distractions as they easily bested Denmark for the European title.

The Danes lost a man midway through the race, which helped hand Britain a comfortable 6.7-second cushion as they won in a time of 4:00.08.

Russia, who beat Britain to silver behind Australia at this year’s World Championships, unexpectedly failed to reach the final.

The women’s pursuit trio of Laura Trott, Dani King and Joanna Rowsell similarly dispatched Germany for gold in a time of 3:22.618, seven seconds ahead of their rivals.

Pendleton and Varnish won a third title for Britain as they posted a time of 33.276 seconds, including an 18.9-second split for Varnish, to defeat Ukraine in the women’s team sprint.

Saturday’s individual sprint finals, from 1830 BST, feature Hoy, Kenny and Pendleton as the leading British names.

The three-day European Championships conclude on Sunday with the men’s and women’s keirin and omnium medals decided, plus the non-Olympic men’s madison race.

From there, the season continues with more Olympic qualification points on offer at the next World Cup event, in Kazakhstan, early in November.

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