GB teams strike gold in team pursuit at World Cup

Great Britain's (from left to right) Manon Lloyd, Eleanor Dickinson, Emily Nelson and Emily Kay on the podium.
Great Britain's (from left to right) Manon Lloyd, Eleanor Dickinson, Emily Nelson and Emily Kay on the podium.
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Great Britain’s team pursuit squads won gold medals on day one of the Track World Cup in Glasgow, showing the future on the bike is bright despite a tumultuous year off it.

Emily Kay, Ellie Dickinson, Manon Lloyd and Emily Nelson won gold in the women’s four-rider, four-kilometres team pursuit ahead of Italy at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.

And Andy Tennant, Mark Stewart, Ollie Wood and Kian Emadi triumphed in the corresponding men’s event ahead of France.

Rival nations continue to scratch their collective heads at Britain’s sustained Olympic domination after six golds from 10 events in Rio, but the answer lies in a four-year strategy which for Tokyo 2020 has already begun.

Shane Sutton resigned as technical director in April, 100 days prior to the Rio Games, and last week an internal British Cycling investigation upheld Jess Varnish’s complaint against the Australian.

He was found to have used “inappropriate and discriminatory language” towards Varnish, but continues to deny the allegations.

The storm may not yet be over as an independent review into the culture of the world class performance programme is ongoing.

The talent production line continues, too.

The only active member of the Olympic team competing in Glasgow was Katie Archibald, a team pursuit gold medallist in Rio.

But she was focusing on individual events and an academy group assumed responsibility in the team pursuit which Archibald won with Laura Trott (now Kenny), Joanna Rowsell-Shand and Elinor Barker in Brazil in August.

Italy led for much of the final, but Britain kept their composure as their rivals floundered.

The time is taken on the third rider and while Kay, Dickinson and Nelson stayed together, Italy’s Maria Confalonieri lost contact with her two remaining team-mates.

The partisan crowd quickly made Britain aware of Italy’s unravelling and the host team seized their chance to triumph.

Britain’s time was four minutes 25.809 seconds, with Italy almost two seconds adrift.

Rowsell-Shand and Ciara Horne, world bronze medallist in March and Olympic reserve, were on hand to congratulate the young group, which included converted sprinter Danni Khan, who had ridden Thursday’s qualification ride.

Three of the team were still teenagers - Lloyd’s 20th birthday is on Saturday, Kay is 21, Nelson is 20 next week and Dickinson is 18.

Kay said: “When you go into a ride like that and know it’s going to be close, you try to keep to your ride.

“You can hear the crowd - they were so loud the whole way round - (and) in a weird way they gave you that extra bit of energy.”

Dickinson added: “It’s my first ride with the team. I didn’t expect this at all.”

Archibald had shared her experience with her junior team-mates.

Lloyd, who had the crucial starting role of getting the team up to speed, said: “She sits with us in our briefings and stuff. It’s really good to have an Olympic champion to look up to and give us advice.”

Britain qualified fastest in the men’s event and lived up to their status.

Tennant, a multiple world and European medallist, came in for the final, replacing Matthew Bostock, to face a France team which included 37-year-old Tour de France stage winner and yellow jersey wearer Sylvain Chavanel and which won the European title last month.

Britain had a commanding early lead of around 1.5secs, which France cut to 0.5s.

Emadi, a former sprinter, dropped out and France also lost a man with more than 1km to go, leaving Tennant, Stewart and Wood to forge on.

And Britain finished in 3:58.891 to win by 1.3secs.

“The boys did a great job,” Tennant said.

“I’ve only done one training session with these boys about five weeks ago, before I got married (last month).

“My party lifestyle of getting married and stag dos has to disappear now. I have to get my bum in gear and start training properly.

“Alcohol’s not the greatest thing for performance.”

Stewart, from Dundee, said: “It’s not often you get friends and family coming to watch. It’s added pressure because you don’t want to disappoint them.

“I’m really pleased we won it.”

Ryan Owens, unused reserve at the Rio Olympics, was fourth in the men’s sprint. Poland’s Kamil Kuczynski took gold.