Olympic Feature: Women’s Team Pursuit

 

London 2012 will see the time the Olympic programme has included a women’s team pursuit.  The event was added as part of big changes that bought sexual equality to the track cycling races on offer.

 

Australia women's team pursuit

 

Most agree that the world record will be lowered again in London, after it fell three times at the World Championships in Melbourne last March – first to Australia in qualifying, GB immediately lowered the mark in their qualifying and it fell again in the gold medal final. 

 

It is regarded as a relatively new event, which had seen a significant advances increase in both the quality and quantity of teams fielded as the Olympics get closer.  Speaking to British Cycling, the GB women’s endurance coach Paul Manning, said “It’s still a young event - it’s only really leapt forward in 2012, that’s when the times have only significantly gone below three minutes and twenty.  You see the men’s team, they are (still) improving, (but) the margins are becoming smaller and smaller. I think there’s a lot more to come (from the women) – if you think of the group (team GB) they are doing everything together for the first or second time [in competition]. We’ll become much better when we spend a bit more time doing things together. It’s got to be right on the day - the competition environment and the team. “

 

GB Women's team pursuit

 

“I do think it [the world record] will go again, maybe that will establish something that is tough to beat over the next three or four years. It’s a time-trial in the qualification but it does become a race and time is less relevant, you’re just interested in the win. Certainly this summer we won’t care if we break the world record, it’s whether you win the gold in that final ride.”

 

The Olympic event is different from any other team pursuit in that there is an additional round of racing.  In all other events, competitors ride qualifying and then the two fastest teams ride off for gold and silver, while the third and fourth qualifiers ride off for bronze.  The distance is the same at 3 kilometres, but at the Olympics, nations will ride a qualifying round on the first day.  Only the fastest four teams progress to the next round on the following day, where the fastest team will ride off against the fourth ranked team and the second against the third ranked team.  The two winners of these heats will then ride off for the gold and silver medals and the losers for the bronze, with just an hour between the rides.

 

GB are lucky enough to have four very evenly match women to choose from with Dani King, Joanna Rowsell, Wendy Houvenaghel and Laura Trott, a squad described by Manning as ‘the best’.  The make up of the team can be changed between qualifying, heats and finals, as was seen at the Olympic test event when Wendy Houvenaghel was used in qualifying, before Dani King replaced her in the final.  Manning commented “We just have to see how the competition pans out and ultimately where everyone’s form is on the run in, it will be a very tough decision.”

 

GB Women's team pursuit enjoying that winning feeling

 

After a short break following the track world championships, the British quartet are to spend some time away from the boards and move onto the road – both domestically and on the continent - before returning in late May to commence their build-up to the Games.

 

Read our report from the World Championships in Melbourne here

 

Women’s Team Pursuit Key Facts

 

Current World Record: 3:15.720 (Great Britain)

Olympic dates: qualifying - Friday 3 August, round 1 and medal finals - Saturday 4 Aug

Venue: velodrome, Olympic Park

Distance: 3k

Format: Teams of three women, with each nation riding a qualifying round.  Only the fastest four teams progress to the next round, where the fastest rides off against the fourth ranked team and the second against the third ranked team.  The two winners ride off for the gold and silver medals and the losers for the bronze.

Medal Favourites: GB, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, but we are not discounting USA either

 

Team pursuit podium from the Manchester World cup 2011

All pictures courtesy of www.trackcycling.me.uk The only website dedicated to track cycling - from local track leagues to top level international competition

 

 

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