YORKSHIRE’S Ed Clancy had to settle for silver in the men’s team pursuit at the World Track Championships in France last night – but it still represented a major improvement on last year.
Clancy, Owain Doull, Andy Tennant and Steven Burke, who had surgery on a fractured collarbone last month, finished in 3:54.687, but Pieter Bulling, Regan Gough, Dylan Kennett and Alex Frame of New Zealand clocked 3:54.088 to take gold.
Britain finished a woeful eighth in Colombia last year, but have responded well to the disappointment and a public rebuke from British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton.
The quick time suggests the stated target of 3:50 in Rio is not unrealistic – and Britain still have London 2012 star Sir Bradley Wiggins to come into the selection mix.
Defending world champions Australia took bronze after catching Germany in the ride-off.
“It was only a month ago Burkey was lying in the road with a broken collarbone, Doull was cut to ribbons (after being involved in the same crash) and I didn’t think we were coming here,” said Barnsley-born Clancy afterwards.
“We had a shocker of an event (in 2014). Understandably we got a fair bit of flack for that. It was a massive improvement.
“Shane said to us this morning, irrespective of what happens today we can do Rio now - and he’s right. There’s more to come.
“We can’t guarantee we’ll get out and win, but we’ve got a chance now and we believe we’ve got a chance.”
Great Britain’s women suffered their first team pursuit loss in more than four years.
Seeking a fifth successive gold in the event, Britain threatened their own world record in the second round on day two in Saint-Quentin-En-Yvelines, near Paris.
The quartet of Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell did so again in the final of the four-women, four-kilometre event,
But Australia went even quicker to take gold in a new world record time of 4:13.683.
Trott, a four-time world champion and previously unbeaten in the event, said: “It’s disappointing. We are used to being on the top step so it was a different feeling. But we rode a PB, quicker than we’ve ever been before at sea level, and for us that is a massive step.
“It also shows we have work to do. You have to have four girls going good on the same day. And they did.
“I wouldn’t say it’s worrying, it’s a year and a half until the big target in Rio. As long as we keep moving forward, I guess that’s all we can ask for.”