sport

Britain fail in gold run in Minsk

Great Britain ended day one of the Track Cycling World Championships without a gold medal as the men's team pursuit squad settled for silver.

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 - Ed Clancy and Steven Burke - were present in the squad which lost the world champion rainbow jerseys to Australia.

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," Clancy said.

"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 co, for James and Williamson there was joy.

The 19-year-old Williamson 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.

Sprint coach Iain Dyer says 21-year-old James, who pushed Olympic champion Anna Meares close for Commonwealth gold in 2010, is in the form of her life.

As if to prove it, James allowed a gap to open up by going up the banking coming into the changeover to allow her to accelerate into her lap.

The technique was devised in the last session of the Newport training camp ahead of travelling to Minsk.

James, who made up deficits in each of her rides, said: "We just thought we'd try something new and because my form's come through quite nicely we wanted to get as much speed as possible off the lap.

"I'm just absolutely buzzing. I'm so shocked. I can't believe it, my first world medal."

Williamson, who received text messages of support from Varnish in the build-up to Minsk, said: "I'm gobsmacked. To come out with a bronze medal is just amazing."

James will now ride in the 500 metres time-trial tomorrow, the first of three individual events in which she is targeting further success.

She added: "Seeing the form I've got I'd really like to be up there this week. I'll give it my best shot."

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, taking Hoy's man three slot in the three-lap event.

Emadi is confident of combining well with the Olympic champions.

He said: "There's good signs in training. Everyone's stepping up and getting faster as the competition has come closer."

Three more events take place tomorrow, including the women's team pursuit, featuring Olympic champions Laura Trott and Dani King, with Elinor Barker making up the trio.

Owain Doull is entered into the men's scratch race, with Burke entered in the 4km men's individual pursuit.