OLYMPIC GAMES Team Pursuit
Britain's medal haul
BRITAIN's pursuit team added to Britain's medal haul on Tuesday, taking the bronze medal in a time of 4-01.979, the third British-record time the team had set in four rounds of competition. Bryan Steel, Chris Newton, Bradley Wiggins and Paul Manning"s final ride took them almost five seconds clear of the mark that had stood since the '98 World's in Bordeaux.
With Olympic individual pursuit champion Robert Bartko, on the team, the Germans raised the stakes again, breaking the British Olympic record in the quarterfinals against Australia. and establishing themselves as favourites.
"Fifth has been our best at the team pursuit in the Olympics or World's, so we're guaranteed to get that" said Chris Newton before the semi-final. "We got the Olympic record yesterday morning, so it's all to play for."
The British fielded Jon Clay and Rob Hayles in place of Bryan Steel and Newton in the semi-finals, but even with two fresh pairs of legs they were unable to match the Ukrainians, who produced their best ride of the competition to break the world record with a time of 4-00-834. It was another British record performance though, and was better than any ride the French, who they were to meet in the ride for bronze, had produced.
As expected, the Germans rode a phenomenal race in the final, breaking the four-minute mark and crushing the Ukrainian team which had not recovered from its semi-final effort. In the ride for bronze the British team brought back Steel and Newton, and this time the team went under 4-03 to claim the medal. "We needed a fast team against the Ukraine, but we also needed a fast team for our final ride," said Newton, of the changes.
"We were disappointed to lose in the semi-final and you think 'I've just done a 4-02 and I've got to do it all again'," said Manning after the final. "Expectations have gone a little higher each night, it's fantastic that we were able to carry on that success."
The team agreed that Britain's success in the opening events had inspired them: "I was speechless when Jason won the gold on the opening night and Rob qualified second fastest in the individual pursuit," said Manning.
But initial celebrations were tainted when only four of the six team riders were allowed onto the podium to receive medals; because Hayles and Clay had only ridden in the semi-final against the Ukraine they were told that they did not qualify for any prizes the team won. Although International Olympic Committee regulations stipulate that any athlete who participates in a round of a team event is eligible for any medals the team wins, the UCI rules - that a rider must participate in at least two rounds or the final to receive a medal - took precedence.
Hayles shook off the news, which could only compound his disappointment at missing out in the individual pursuit to McGee days earlier. "The rules state there are only four medals, but the situation is under review," he said.
The rule was hastily reviewed and while Jon Clay warmed up for the points race the following evening, word went round that all six riders would be given medals; the British team felt the right decision had been reached.
Ukraine bt Great Britain in 4-00.830 (world record);
Germany bt France in 4-05.930.
Great Britain bt France in 4-01.979.
Germany bt Ukraine in 3-59.710 (world record).