Clancy positive despite Minsk silver

Great Britain completed the opening day of the first Track Cycling World Championships on the road to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics without a gold medal, but with a satisfactory silver and a surprise bronze.

Ed Clancy
Ed Clancy

After Becky James and Vicky Williamson, making her senior World Championships debut, finished third in the women’s team sprint, silver was claimed in the men’s team pursuit, an event in which Britain won world and Olympic gold in 2012.

Two of the London Olympic-winning quartet – Steven Burke and Barnsley’s Ed Clancy – were present in the squad which lost the world champion rainbow jerseys to Australia.

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Clancy, Burke, 2012 world champion Andy Tennant and Sam Harrison, who won world bronze in 2011, qualified second fastest and were unable to overturn their seeding, finishing in four minutes 00.967 seconds, to their rivals’ 3mins 56.751secs.

Australia led throughout the 16-lap final, even though Glenn O’Shea dropped out entering the final kilometre, leaving Alex Edmondson, Michael Hepburn and Alex Morgan to hold off Britain in the finale.

Clancy, who experimented with the team sprint earlier this winter before reverting to his usual discipline, said: “It does hurt to lose to the Aussies, but it’s an Olympic programme. It’s bike racing, you can’t win all the time.

“It’s disappointing, but if you don’t look at it so black and white there’s a lot of positives.”

Clancy pointed to the absences of Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh, focusing on their road careers with Team Sky after their Olympic glory, and the fact Britain finished fourth in Pruszkow in 2009, a year after winning gold in Beijing.

The quartet were not quite firing on all cylinders.

“We had at least one set of legs in there that weren’t quite on it,” added Clancy.

“I’m not saying we’re happy about coming second, but we’re not in a bad place, that’s for sure.

“If you look at where we were in Poland, we’ve done a hell of a lot better than we did there.”

While there was a sense of disappointment for Clancy and his team-mates, for James and Williamson there was joy.

Williamson, 19, was a late replacement for Jess Varnish, who has a back injury, while James was fulfilling second-lap duties previously occupied by the now-retired Victoria Pendleton.

James, who made up deficits in each of her rides, said: “I’m just absolutely buzzing. I’m so shocked. I can’t believe it, my first world medal.”

Kian Emadi competed in the corresponding men’s event, the one-kilometre time-trial, placing an impressive fourth on his debut.

In an event removed from the Olympic programme following Sir Chris Hoy’s win in Athens in 2004, Emadi clocked 1:01.756, with Francois Pervis of France winning in 1:00.221, New Zealand’s Simon Van Velthooven second in 1.00.869 and Germany’s Joachim Eilers third in 1:01.450.

Emadi’s time was short of his personal best, set at altitude in Colombia, but he was content with his display.

The 20-year-old will now ride in the men’s team sprint on day two alongside Philip Hindes and Jason Kenny.