There was to be no gold medal for the Great Britain team at the Track World Championships in Paris on Thursday, as both the men's and women's quartets were unable to beat their opponents in their respective finals. For the women it was a major surprise, as it represented their first defeat in some four years of competition. The men came perilously close to beating their New Zealand rivals in a tense finish to the race.

After their semi-final race had seen Britain's women qualify fastest for the final, the quartet of Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell would have been quietly confident of claiming a fifth straight gold medal, yet a nagging doubt may have been there about the quality of their Australian opposition in the final.

Advertisements
Advertisements

That squad had been ahead of the Brits in the quarter-finals, so were clearly in top form.

However, Britain's women could hardly have been prepared for the manner in which the Aussies took the title away from them, as they smashed the world record (set by the Brits) by almost three seconds with a scorching time of four minutes 13.683 seconds. GB also set a personal best time in the Australians' slipstream. The Aussie names to remember and look out for in Rio in 2016 were Annette Edmondson, Ashlee Ankudinoff, Amy Cure and Melissa Hoskins.

It was a similar story in the men's equivalent race over 4km, as the quartet of Ed Clancy, Steven Burke, Andy Tennant and Owain Doull went desperately close to beating the New Zealand team as they set an impressive time of 3:54.687. Britain were leading until the very late stages of the final and had opened up a lead of over half a second on the Kiwis.

Advertisements

They were unable to maintain their advantage though, as the New Zealanders surged back at the death with a last lap charge, to overturn the deficit and finish more than half a second ahead themselves in recording 3:54.088.

It was a promising return to form by the Brits in the men's race and gives them renewed optimism going forward to next year's Olympics in Rio, when they may be able to call on the services of Sir Bradley Wiggins again to bolster their chances for gold. After only finishing eighth last year at the World Champs it was a big step up in performance this time around. It was made all the more remarkable by the fact that Burke and Doull suffered a major accident in training only last month, leaving Burke with a broken collarbone. #Celebrities