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2008 UCI Track Cycling World Championships - CM
Great Britain, March 26-30, 2008
Day 3 - March 28: Women's team pursuit
Great Britain completes Pursuit dominance
By Ben Atkins in Manchester
Great Britain now has all four Pursuit Gold medals after its record-breaking women's team pushed their qualifying time still further to set a new best time against World Cup winners Ukraine. As they did in their qualifying heat, Wendy Houvenaghel, Joanna Rowsell and individual gold medallist Rebecca Romero started slower than their opponents as they took a while to reach their top speed.
Ukraine was around half a second up after the first 500 metres, but by now Great Britain were motoring and had cut that to less around a quarter by the kilometre mark.
After another lap and a half, the Great Britain team were back on level terms, and by the end of kilometre two they had pulled out a lead of almost a second. The Ukrainian team by this stage was beginning to look quite ragged - their changes less smooth - and Great Britain could almost see the tail of their line as they came around each bend.
Coming into the final laps, the Ukrainian line split up, their front rider dropping the other two, but there wasn't enough track left for Great Britain to catch them. They crossed the line over seven seconds ahead, knocking more than three seconds off the World best time they set this afternoon.
The delirious hometown crowd was treated to several laps of honour, which began with Romero pointing at her 19 year-old team-mate Rowsell. "Would anyone have known, from us riding that race, that she was 19 years old?" said Romero. "Wendy and I do what we do and then she comes in and performs phenomenally. She definitely made it for our team.
"When she knew that team pursuiting was coming to the Worlds, she wanted that place and she's had to lift herself up," she said. "It's very, very intimidating to come along and ride with Wendy and myself, especially having to sit at the hotel last night, and see what we did. You can't hide in that race, you've got to hold your own, and she absolutely did."
Joanna Rowsell returned the respect to her far more experienced team-mates. "It's not scary, it's inspirational to ride with people that can achieve the top four positions in the world," said Rowsell. "For me, it's a really great opportunity to ride with them, to be able to hold my own in the team and win. That's the main thing.
"Just that it's sinking in that we won and it's the world title," said the clearly emotional teenager. "It's amazing, I'm only 19 and to be at this level with these girls is unbelievable. It hasn't sunk in yet."
While the rest of the team is looking to Beijing Olympic Games in August, Rowsell is realistic in her ambitions, focussing further on the Olympics in her hometown in 2012. "I'm thinking about London to be honest, I'm really hoping that the women's Team Pursuit will be an event for London, but if not I'd still really like to do the individual pursuit," she said. "I'm not at these guys level yet, but I'll get there. Definitely."
Houvenaghel missed out on a medal in yesterday's individual competition, but can take a great deal of compensation in her team success. "It does make up for it," she admitted. "However, I had a good hard think about how yesterday went and I'm actually very pleased. The actual process that I went through and the times that I got, they were all world class and I'm now in the mix with the potential medal winners."
A position amongst the top names in the event gives her an extra spur to push herself towards greater glory in August. "I'm very happy with where I'm at now, I've got to use the next five months to maximise that small gap that I need to breach to get to that medal winning podium place," said Houvenaghel. "So, I'm pleased with how yesterday went, but I'm even more pleased that today's gone the way it has."
Romero remains realistic and level headed about the bearing these jersey and medal will have in those Games. "Winning both races here does doesn't mean anything in Beijing," said Romero.
In the race for bronze, the German team broke its own national record to beat Belarus in a much closer contest. Germany started faster and consistently rode a second faster per kilometre to comfortably take the medal.
Qualifying - More World records tumble
Tonight's Women's team pursuit final will be between host nation Great Britain and World Cup winners Ukraine. First to ride, the Great Britain trio of individual champion Rebecca Romero, fourth placed Wendy Houvenaghel, and nineteen year-old Joanna Rowsell, set a fastest time of 3:25.725. There is no officially ratified World record for this discipline for women, but this eclipses the previous best time set by the Ukraine in the Los Angeles round of the World Cup by almost two seconds.
The Ukrainian team were on level terms with Great Britain but tired in the final kilometre, changes became more ragged, and they finished three-quarters of a second behind.
Germany started fast but faded in the mid-section, but will face the more consistent Belarus in the ride off for bronze.
Final 1 Great Britain 3.22.42 (53.355 km/h) Wendy Houvenaghel Joanna Rowsell Rebecca Romero 2 Ukraine 3.29.74 Svitlana Galyuk Lyubov Shulika Lesya Kalitovska 3 Germany 3.26.96 Charlotte Becker Alexandra Sontheimer Verena Joos 4 Belarus 3.29.45 Alena Amialyusik Tatsiana Sharakova Aksana Papko Qualifying 1 Great Britain 3.25.72 2 Ukraine 3.26.57 3 Germany 3.28.51 4 Belarus 3.29.88 5 Russia 3.30.32 6 Netherlands 3.31.60 7 Belgium 3.35.59