It was left to Laura Trott to save the day for Great Britain as the UCI Track World Cycling got underway at the Lee Valley VeloPark.
The 2012 Olympic gold medallist was part of GB’s team pursuit quarter which endured a disappointing afternoon at the venue which hosted the track cycling events at the London Games.
“It looks as if Rio 2016 will be a tougher prospect for Team GB as the standards set in London are rapidly being surpassed”
Trott, Elinor Barker, Ciara Horne and Joanna Rowsell Shand were on course to put themselves in with a chance of gold or silver, but their race fell apart in the final kilometre in qualifying, leaving them only fifth fastest and chasing bronze at best on Friday.
Trott and Barker led the final push but a tiring Horne cost the team as she finished behind the pair some way off their pace.
The USA recorded a national record time of 4:16 180 as they really set the standard, in fact the clock wasn’t stopped in time as they crossed the line – that is how fast they were.
Trott, 23, later bounced back from her disappointment to win the women’s scratch title. An explosive sprint finish saw her pick up the gold medal and the rainbow jersey.
The men’s kilometre time trial final raised the roof at the Olympic Park. Theo Boss from the Netherlands, who went out second, led the way with an impressive 1:00.461 and looked unbeatable as every attempt to beat his mark faltered in the last one-and-half laps.
However, it was Joachim Eilers, the 15th and final cyclist on the track, who stormed to victory and snatched the gold medal from Boss with a new Velodrome record of 1:00.042.
The title has been held for three consecutive championships by Frenchman Francios Pervis, but Eilers performance under such pressure was hugely deserving a rainbow jersey in what is a real test of speed, power and endurance.
The men continued to excite, with Sir Bradley Wiggins, John Dibben, Ed Clancy and Owain Doull winning their team pursuit semi-final against Italy with relative ease.
Head to head
However, gold proved to be beyond the GB foursome – who produced a world record at the 2012 Olympics in this race – as they were beaten by Australia, who recorded the second-best ever time of 3:52.727.
The crowd inside the Velodrome urged Wiggins and his team-mates on but couldn’t push them over the finishing line quick enough.
GB will be disappointed not to put another gold medal on the board at World Championship level but will feel very confident going in to Olympics that they can take gold in Rio this summer.
The women, however, have some work to do. Trott looks like she will compete for the top spot on the podium in Brazil, and not to forget Becky James’s bronze in the women’s keirin.
But after the success of 2012, it looks as if Rio 2016 will be a tougher prospect for Team GB as the standards set in London are rapidly being surpassed.
Photos by Daniel Pellegrini