Cycling: Rare wobble from GB women team pursuit

The British women's team pursuit quartet compete in yesterday's qualifying round. Picture: Getty

The British women's team pursuit quartet compete in yesterday's qualifying round. Picture: Getty

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Great Britain’s women were beaten in the team pursuit for the first time in more than four years in qualifying on the opening day of the Track World Championships.

Bidding for a fifth successive world title in the discipline, Britain fielded the same quartet which won the 2014 gold medal in Cali 12 months ago for the event which took place in Saint-Quentin-En-Yvelines, near Paris.

Scotland’s Katie Archibald, Wales’ Elinor Barker and the English pair of Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell clocked four minutes 18.207 seconds to qualify for tonight’s semi-final in second place, behind Australia.

Annette Edmondson, Ashlee Ankudinoff, Amy Cure and Melissa Hoskins finished in 4mins 18.135secs.

Britain will meet third-fastest qualifiers Canada (4:20.699) in the last four for a place in the final, which also takes place on day two.

Australia will face fourth-fastest qualifiers New Zealand (4:25.406) in the second semi-final.

Britain’s men, who were a lowly eighth in Colombia last year, were also second in qualifying to advance to the semi-finals.

Seven teams broke the four-minute barrier, with Ed Clancy, Steven Burke, Owain Doull and Andy Tennant clocking 3:57.716, behind New Zealand, who clocked 3:56.421. The 2014 bronze-medal Kiwi team of Dylan Kennett, Pieter Bulling, Alex Frame and Marc Ryan posted a time of 3:56:421.

Great Britain will meet Germany (3:58.861) in the semi-finals, with New Zealand up against Switzerland (3:58.887).

If Britain’s men were the surprise last year, the much-fancied Australians were in 2015, clocking 3:58.900 to place fifth. The defending champions can win bronze at best.

Jess Varnish and Victoria Williamson were eighth in the two-lap, two-women team sprint, missing out on a medal ride.

Russia were quickest in 32.518, with the British duo clocking 33.583.

Both Varnish and Williamson are specialist starters, focusing on the first lap, but the pair have been forced to team up – Varnish went first and Williamson second – due to the lengthy lay-off enforced on Becky James.

James, who won two individual world titles in 2013, is recovering from a knee injury.

Britain’s men were also eliminated in team sprint qualifying, clocking 43.808 to place eighth in the three-man, three-lap event.

Philip Hindes was the seventh fastest over the first lap, and Jason Kenny, his fellow Olympic champion, propelled Britain into fourth.

However, Callum Skinner was unable to keep pace with Kenny as Britain faded badly to miss out on a medal ride.

Britain’s last world title in the discipline was in 2005 in Los Angeles, but they have won the last two Olympics.

There is work to do, though, if a third successive Olympic title is to be claimed in Rio de Janeiro in less than 18 months.

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