Britain claim two medals on opening day of World Track Cycling Championships

By Matt Westby.   Last Updated: 21/02/13 10:16am

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Becky James, left, and Vicky Williamson won a surprise bronze in the women's team sprint

Becky James, left, and Vicky Williamson won a surprise bronze in the women's team sprint

A youthful Great Britain squad claimed one silver and one bronze on a productive opening day of the Track Cycling World Championships in Minsk.

An experimental men's team pursuit quartet finished second behind Australia in the marquee race of the day, while Becky James and Vicky Williamson stormed to an impressive third in the women's team sprint.

There was almost a third medal in the men's 1km time trial, where 20-year-old Kian Emadi led the field after a superb display, before eventually being squeezed out into fourth at the death.

The team pursuit line-up, comprising Ed Clancy, Steven Burke, Andy Tennant and 20-year-old Sam Harrison, qualified second-fastest behind Australia earlier in the day and were unable to overhaul their long-term rivals in a one-sided final.

The team pursuit quartet picked up a silver medal

Australia opened up a 0.3-second gap after the first kilometre of the 4km race and had extended that to 0.9secs by the halfway point.

They then lost a man but managed to double their advantage to 2.1secs at the 3km mark, before crossing the finish line more than four seconds ahead of a British team who rode with one eye on the future.

Clancy said afterwards: "It's bike racing. You win some, you lose some. British Cycling is an Olympic programme and this is the first stage of the Olympic cycle. We would have rather won today than finished second, but this is part of a long process and we have got new faces in the team. We are in a lot better position than we were in the last Olympic cycle, so it's not all bad news."

Team sprint bronze

Earlier in the session, James and Williamson claimed Britain's first medal of the championships by winning an unexpected team sprint bronze.

Having qualified third fastest overall, the duo were nearly half a second down on the Australian pairing of Kaarle McCulloch and Stephanie Morton at the half-way point of the race, but James overhauled the deficit with a blistering final lap to win by five-thousandths of a second.

James laid the platform for the comeback with an unusual handover, swinging up the banking and then swooping back down to give her extra momentum as she powered past team-mate Williamson.

It was a superb result for the pairing, with Williamson having only been selected after Jess Varnish was forced to withdraw from the championships with an injury.

It also bodes well for Britain's future in the event following Victoria Pendleton's retirement in the wake of London 2012.

James said: "It is so unexpected for both of us. I am just shocked and gobsmacked. It [the changeover] is a new thing we have tried. Two weeks ago in training, we decided to do something new and my form was coming through well. We thought if I could gain a bit of height, it would give me a bit more speed coming into the second lap. It seemed to work really well."

Emadi near miss

Kian Emadi narrowly missed out on bronze in the men's kilo

In the first medal race of the day, Emadi - the British national champion in the men's 1km time trial - had led the 19-man field after posting an impressive time of 1:01.450.

Germany's Joachim Eilers pushed him down into second by going three-tenths of a second faster, before France's Francois Pervis obliterated the field with a gold medal-winning time of 1:00.221.

That left Emadi clinging to third with only Simon van Velthoven still to ride - and it looked like he might not eclipse the young Briton after a slow first two laps.

However, the New Zealander upped the pace in the latter half of the race to claim silver and move Emadi into fourth.

Emadi said: "It is a great experience to come here. I gave it my best. It would have been nice to get a medal, but it is the performance that matters, so I am happy with that."

In the day's other medal race, the United States' Sarah Hammer outclassed the field to claim gold in the women's individual pursuit, catching Amy Cure in a comprehensive win over the Australian in the final.

Cure's consolation was a silver medal, with compatriot Annette Edmondson taking the bronze.

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