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Britain qualify second in Minsk

Great Britain began the defence of their Track World Championships men's team pursuit title by qualifying second fastest to Australia in Minsk.

Olympic champions Ed Clancy and Steven Burke were joined in the line-up for the four-kilometre event by 2012 world champion Andy Tennant and Sam Harrison, who won world bronze in 2011 aged 18.

Riding last of 15 teams, the quartet clocked three minutes 59.784 seconds, narrowly behind Australia, the world and Olympic silver medallists in 2012, whom they will meet in the final.

Glenn O'Shea, Alex Edmondson, Michael Hepburn and Alex Morgan finished in 3mins 59.325secs.

Denmark (4:00.841) will meet Spain (4:04.587) for bronze, while Russia (4:04.840) were fifth fastest, missing out on a medal ride after one rider crashed little more than two laps into the 16-lap event.

In the first World Championships since the London Olympics, Britain fielded a strong line-up, blended with youth.

Clancy, Burke, Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh won London 2012 in a world record of 3:51.659, with Tennant an unused reserve, therefore missing out on a medal.

None rode at the Track World Cup in Glasgow, when Tennant led a young team which crashed in qualifying.

Clancy rode in the team sprint, Burke was absent and Thomas and Kennaugh turned their full attentions to the road with Team Sky.

The returns of Clancy, who assumed his customary man one role in leading the team at the start, and Burke gave the team a solid look and a comfortable qualifying performance.

World record holder Sarah Hammer of the United States qualified fastest in the women's 3km individual pursuit, clocking 3:30.206.

Hammer will meet Amy Cure in the final after the Australian's heat ride of

3:33.366.

Ireland's Caroline Ryan missed out on a medal ride, placing fifth in 3:38.269.

The opening event of the evening session was the women's team sprint, featuring Becky James and Vicky Williamson for Britain.

Britain were represented at London 2012 by the now retired Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish, who was replaced by Williamson in Minsk due to a back injury.

James rode a supreme second lap as Britain finished in 33.762 to set-up a bronze medal ride-off with Australia's Kaarle McCulloch and Stephanie Morton, who qualified in 33.776.

Olympic champions Kristina Vogel and Miriam Welte of Germany clocked 33.150 in qualifying and will meet China's Gong Jinjie and Guo Shuang (33.151) in the final.

China were controversially denied victory at London 2012, handing gold to Germany, and will be after a semblance of revenge.