Sport

British cyclists take team event in record time

Friday, August 03, 2012    

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LONDON, England (AP) — Britain broke their own world record set earlieryesterday to win their second straight Olympic gold medal in the men's cycling team sprint.

The team of Philip Hindes, Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy scorched the pine wood surface of the velodrome to post a time of 42.600 seconds, bettering the mark of 42.747 they had set in the previous round. France won the silver medal with a time of 43.013 seconds.

Germany beat Australia to claim the bronze.

The only newcomer to the British team was Hindes, who replaced the retired Jamie Staff from the crew that won gold at the Beijing Games. Hindes gave the British team the lead after the first lap, and Kenny and Hoy only added to it while being cheered on by Princes William and Harry.

Hoy blew kisses to an overflowing crowd roaring its approval after crossing the finish line, and even gave the 19-year-old Hindes a good-natured shove after the ride of his life.

Even the soundtrack piped into the raucous velodrome was fitting: The Boys Are Back in Town played immediately after the race, and the theme from Chariots of Fire blared out to another cheer when the British team emerged for the medal ceremony.

The French team of Gregory Bauge, Kevin Sireau and Michael D'Almeida could only shake their heads at a British team determined to build on its cycling success.

Bradley Wiggins, a three-time Olympic gold medallist on the track, sent the nation into a tizzy with his Tour de France victory, and then captured gold in Wednesday's time trial. His medal came after Elizabeth Armitstead won the silver medal in the women's road race on Sunday.

It was clear that the new velodrome in the Olympic Park was fast from the onset.

The women's world record was broken by Britain's Victoria Pendleton and Jessica Varnish during qualifying, only for the Chinese pair of Gong Jinjie and Guo Shuang to lower the time.

The men's qualifying heats merely toppled Olympic marks.

China posted a time of 43.751 seconds in the first heat to successfully go off, and France lowered the time to 43.097. After a restart caused by a mechanical problem, Olympic rookie Hindes led the British team to a time of 43.065 seconds to qualify first.

The world record didn't fall until teams were vying for spots in the finals.

France posted a time of 42.991 to briefly set a new Olympic mark, but the British team tore over the track in a time of 42.747 seconds, breaking the record of 42.914 set by Germany at a World Cup race last December in Cali, Colombia.

It was a world record that wouldn't stand much longer.

The team's epic ride in the final wrapped up a sixth career medal for Hoy, who won three gold medals in Beijing to become Sir Chris Hoy — he was knighted for the performance.

Unlike the team pursuit, where riders ride in a perfect line to establish the best possible aerodynamics, the sprint is all about raw power — and the British team have plenty. Each rider completes a lap as fast as possible, and medals can be won or lost for a thousandth of a second.

Or by the judges, as it turns out.

The Chinese team thought it had won Olympic gold in the women's race, twice setting the world record along the way, only to be disqualified — the technical term is relegated — after their victory lap for making an illegal change when the second rider took over.

The German team of Miriam Welte and Kristina Vogel was elevated to gold. The Chinese team wound up with the silver medal, and Australia beat Ukraine for the bronze.

Great Britain's gold medal cycling team (centre) joins second-placed France's team and bronze-winning German on the podium during the victory ceremony for the Men's team sprint event of London 2012 Olympic games yesterday. (Photo: AFP)

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