British women's team sprint trio on course for fifth world title in six years in Minsk
Last Updated: 23/02/13 10:54am
Great Britain's women's team pursuit trio qualified two seconds faster than their nearest rivals
Great Britain's women's team pursuit trio are on course to win a fifth world title in six years after Laura Trott, Dani King and Elinor Barker qualified two seconds faster than their nearest challengers at the Track Cycling World Championships in Minsk.
A blistering time of 3:18.704 saw them comfortably into this evening's gold-medal race, where they will face the Australian team of Annette Edmondson, Ashlee Ankudinoff and Melissa Hoskins, who trailed well behind in 3:20.696.
But there was disappointment for the British men's team sprint trio of Jason Kenny, Philip Hindes and Kian Emadi, who could only qualify sixth fastest in 44.270 seconds and will consequently miss out on a medal.
Steven Burke also failed to progress to the medal races in the men's individual pursuit. The 24-year-old stepped in at late notice for Andy Tennant and struggled to 17th fastest.
That left it to Trott, King and Barker to fly the British flag on day two in the Belarusian capital. Although not out of keeping with the trio's performances over the past 12 months, their display was remarkable given that 18-year-old Barker was making her world championships debut.
Taking to the track last, they were put under pressure when Australia shaved more than two seconds off Canada's previous best time of 3:22.784.
But they made a flying start and were already well ahead after just 2,000m, before continuing to turn the screw and crossing the line in a time that will make them overwhelming favourites in Thursday evening's final.
The world championships are the last time the women's team pursuit will be contested by three riders over 3km, with an expansion to four riders over 4km set to take place after Minsk.
Trott expressed her determination to win the final world title of the 3km era and now looks set to fulfill that ambition.
But there will be no world crown for the men's team sprinters, for whom Emadi was replacing Sir Chris Hoy, who is taking a break from the sport.
Qualifying came less than 24 hours after the 20-year-old had produced a fine display to finish fourth in the men's 1km time trial, and although he gave Britain a good start, the trio saw their time eclipsed by five of the later starters.
New Zealand qualified fastest and will face Germany for gold on Thursday evening, while France and Australia for bronze.
Ireland's Martyn Irvine qualified second fastest in the men's individual pursuit and will race Australia's Michael Hepburn for gold. Switzerland's Stefan Kueng will face Australia's Alex Morgan for bronze.