Welcome to the velodrome: Great Britain track cyclists begin with a bang

By Chris BevanBBC Sport at the London Velodrome

Thrills, spills, world records, controversy... and a British gold medal to boot - the first day on the track at the London Velodrome certainly did not disappoint.

Disaster in the shape of an illegal change-over denied Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish a shot at Olympic gold in the women's team sprint.

But from then on the only way was up, with Britain's team pursuiters smashing the world record in qualifying before Sir Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny and Philip Hindes sent the crowd into a frenzy with their triumph in the men's team sprint.

In the same event four years ago, Hoy, Kenny and Jamie Staff started the British track cycling gold rush in Beijing.

Will there be more to come this time? Olympic gold medallist and BBC Sport analyst Chris Boardman gives his verdict on the first day's action and suggests what could happen over the next five days for Team GB.


"The men's team sprint win was actually a surprise result. It was more than what was expected.

"We thought they would be in the hunt for a medal but would be hard pushed to get gold. In the end, they won it by nearly half a second from France. It was an incredible performance.

"The reason a gold medal was so speculative beforehand was that British hopes came down to what sort of start was made by young Philip Hindes on the first lap - but he surprised everyone. For him to produce a sub-17 second opening lap was the ride of his life.

"He shaved two tenths of a second off his personal best, giving Kenny and Hoy a superb platform to go on and win it."


"I spoke to Dan Hunt, the British men's team pursuit coach, earlier on Thursday and he said they were going out on a world record schedule. He was right - they absolutely smashed it.

"Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Steven Burke and Peter Kennaugh said they were coming to the Olympics to go after a gold medal and they have done exactly that.

"The big surprise for me was Australia, who are meant to be GB's big rivals for gold.

"They were second-fastest in qualifying but I expected a lot better from them. The important thing is getting into the final and maybe they have more to give. But, from what I could see in the commentary box, that was as much as they had.

"They weren't bluffing or holding anything back. They were quite messy."


"On the flip side of the men's success, I was desperately disappointed for Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish.

"They put in four years of work for the women's team sprint and then they miss out on the chance to go for gold in the final on a technicality.

"That particular rule about the change-over is very much open to interpretation. There is nothing really written down, only that you must lead for a lap. That's it.

"But cycling's world governing body did take the team managers to one side to explain to them how it would work before the World Championships in April, which is where it was first flagged up.

"Is the line where riders can change positions clearly marked? It is for the riders, because they put a sponge on the side of the track to help them identify it. Also, you know whether you are overtaking somebody or not.

"A sponge is enough for the riders, but you really need a camera on the line to make a decision about it, because leaving it to a judge's interpretation is wrong.

"It is sad for Vicky and Jess but it was the same for China in the final. Imagine being awarded a gold medal and then having it taken away a few moments later."


"Despite what happened in the team sprint, Vicky's form is fantastic, so we could be in for something amazing.

"What she did on Thursday definitely bodes well for her battles with Australian rival Anna Meares in the keirin on Friday and in the individual sprint that starts on Sunday.

"But, by a long way, every member of the British team came out tonight and showed that their form is better than everybody else.

"Four or five gold medals in total here is a possibility, but you cannot take anything for granted because things come down to such narrow margins on the track. Still, the British team is in better shape than I thought they would be.

"Where will the other golds come? Well, both the women's and men's team pursuit are strong possibilities now.

"The other men's sprint events are wide open, too, but Kenny's form is phenomenal and we have got a real chance in the keirin, too, because Hoy is in great shape and posting personal bests in training.

"So far, I'd give Britain 8/10 for what they have done in the velodrome. They have set the standard very high."