There were mixed fortunes for the Great Britain cycling squad on the opening day of the Track World Championships in Paris, with a smooth (enough) progression for both the men's and women's teams in the team pursuit events, but there was frustration and disappointment for the two teams in the team sprint events.
Yesterday, the seemingly invincible women's team pursuit quartet of Katie Archibald, Laura Trott, Elinor Barker and Joanna Rowsell qualified "only" as the second fastest team from the quarter-finals, behind the 'flying' Australians. That from a squad that are seeking their fifth straight title, so even though it was merely a precursor for the medal rides ahead, some eyebrows were still raised. Of all of the gold medal shots for the GB team at these championships, the women's team pursuit is probably the one they had classed as their 'banker' (if there is ever a 'sure thing' in sport that is).
That ride was still more than good enough though to put them through to the last-four and they proved too good for their semi-final opponents Canada today in the semi-final. The same quartet as for the previous round recorded a time of four minutes 16.975 seconds for the four kilometre distance in France's capital city.
The omens for the final are looking slightly better as well, with the Australians progressing as expected through to the final to face the Brits, but recording a slightly slower time than their rivals. The Aussies still had too much for New Zealand in their semi-final, progressing through to the last-two with 4:17.396. It still promises to be a close battle when the two big guns face each other later in the final.
For the men's pursuit team it was a similar story on Wednesday, as they also rode well to qualify as second fastest in their quarter-final race over the same distance. This time, the fastest team in the last-eight were New Zealand's men.
The form book from the quarter-finals seems to be following its natural course, as GB men defeated Germany in their semi-final and will go on to face the Kiwis in the gold medal race. That is already an improvement on the last World Champs in Colombia, where the men's cycling team failed to get any medals of any colour. They are at least guaranteed a silver now, but will be hoping for better.
There was however disappointment for both the men and women in the team sprint events, as they were eliminated and will not contest the medal positions. Both teams finished in eighth position in their qualifying races, some way off the pace set by the leading countries. #Celebrities