Sir Bradley Wiggins was denied a golden return to track cycling as he and England’s pursuit team – including Huddersfield’s Ed Clancy – were beaten by a rampant Australia in the Commonwealth Games.
Wiggins, Clancy, Steven Burke and Andy Tennant claimed silver in the 4,000m discipline at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, but there was never any chance of edging out an Australia quartet who built an immediate advantage and never looked like letting it go.
Instead Jack Bobridge, Alex Edmondson, Glenn O’Shea and Luke Davison finished with their English team in their sights and a winning margin in excess of five seconds – a crushing victory.
For Wiggins it represents a fourth Commonwealth Games silver medal after a six-year hiatus from the track, though there were signs that there is plenty more to come from both him and his team-mates on the road to Rio 2016.
Australia had finished almost two seconds ahead of England in qualifying, though the latter assured themselves of at least second place by besting a talented New Zealand outfit, who subsequently cruised to bronze by chasing down Canada.
A packed Glasgow audience showed no nationalistic bias as they roared Wiggins, Clancy, Burke and Tennant on, but it was to no avail.
They slipped a second behind almost immediately as Australia attacked hard in the first couple of laps and the advantage was touching two seconds at the 1,500m mark.
England sensed hope when Davison dropped out of the race soon after halfway, but instead Australia merely increased their stranglehold, adding to their lead at each split. Clancy rode himself to a standstill before pulling up late on, leaving Wiggins, Burke and Tennant to complete what had become a surprisingly one-sided outing.
There was a second helping of silver as Jason Kenny, Philip Hindes and Kian Emadi were defeated by New Zealand’s Sam Webster, Ed Dawkins and Ethan Mitchell in the men’s team sprint.
Triple Olympic champion Kenny and his fellow London 2012 team sprint winner Philip Hindes could not match their Kiwi rivals over the first two laps, leaving rookie Amadi a sizeable deficit to recover against Dawkins. He came in 0.525 behind, completing a day of missed opportunities in the men’s division.
Kenny has another chance to impress when he goes in the individual sprint quarter-finals today, but he will need to do better than his initial efforts after qualifying in 11th and needing a repechage place to progress after losing his head-to-head with Dawkins.
Matt Crampton also squeezed into the quarters via repechage but there was disappointment for Scottish trio Callum Skinner, John Paul and Chris Pritchard, as well as Welsh hope Lewis Oliva.
Jessica Varnish had earlier claimed England’s first track medal of the Games, picking up bronze behind record-breaking Australian Anna Meares and her compatriot Stephanie Morton in the 500m time-trial.
Meares was unstoppable as she broke her own Commonwealth record of 33.345s, equalling Bradley McGee’s Games record of five gold medals in track cycling and becoming the first athlete to win medals at four different editions.
For Varnish, who came in at 34.267, it was a moment to savour following her disqualification alongside Pendleton at London 2012 – a ruling that left her as the only Team GB cyclist not to medal.
There was gold for England, though, with Para-cyclist Sophie Thornhill and pilot Helen Scott winning the tandem B2 sprint.
Eighteen-year-old visually impaired rider Thornhill, the youngest member of the English track team, paired with Scott to ease to a 2-0 victory over Scottish pair Aileen McGlynn and Louise Haston in a best-of-three final.
That completed a comfortable day for the pair, who had qualified fastest before seeing off Felicity Johnson and Holly Takos 2-0 in the semi-final.