Swift spurred to gold in scratch race after Clancy leads GB to world record

Britain's Ben Swift celebrates winning the final of the men's scratch race at the Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne, Australia. AP
Britain's Ben Swift celebrates winning the final of the men's scratch race at the Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne, Australia. AP
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Yorkshire cyclists Ed Clancy and Ben Swift delivered an emphatic statement of intent ahead of the Olympic summer by winning world titles on the opening day of the World Track Championships in Melbourne.

Clancy, 27, helped the British team pursuit squad defeat hosts and favourites Australia in a world record time.

And shortly afterwards, Swift, 24, from Rotherham, claimed gold in the men’s 15km (60-lap) scratch race.

Swift’s achievement is all the more remarkable given that he was omitted from Clancy’s team pursuit squad earlier in the day, and is a relative novice at the individual scratch race.

Clancy’s win, alongside Geraint Thomas, Steven Burke and Peter Kennaugh, is a timely boost ahead of the squad’s defence of their Olympic title in London this summer. Australia had gained the upper hand recently with victory at the Track World Cup meet at the London Velodrome in February, which doubled up as the Olympic test event.

But Barnsley-born Clancy responded in the perfect manner yesterday when the world title was on the line.

After threatening the world record in the morning heats with the quickest qualifying time in history, Britain’s four-man team in the 4km race then lowered the mark in the final by stopping the clock at 3mins 53.314secs.

“It’s the best one ever,” said Clancy who won the team pursuit world title for the first time since the last world championships before Beijing.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had to fight as hard as that for a win. It was pretty epic.”

Swift is traditionally a road specialist who has opted to race on the track in a quest to win Olympic gold this summer.

The 15km scratch is not an Olympic discipline but in beating the best in the world he has handed the selectors a timely reminder of his abilities.

Swift was spurred on by the team pursuit win, saying: “I couldn’t be sitting there the only one not with anything. This win has not quite sunk in yet.”