Cycling: British riders make records with a Beatle

LONDON Sat Aug 4, 2012 4:42pm EDT

1 of 3. Britain's Dani King (L), Laura Trott (C) and Joanna Rowsell pose with their gold medals during the victory ceremony after the track cycling women's team pursuit gold finals at the Velodrome during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 4, 2012. Britain set a new world record of 3:14.051.

Credit: Reuters/Cathal McNaughton

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LONDON (Reuters) - British rider Laura Trott blew a kiss at Paul McCartney on Saturday and the former Beatle waved the Union Flag and sang 'Hey Jude' as they celebrated the host nation's fourth track cycling gold with a delirious crowd.

Trott, Dani King and Joanna Rowsell had just crushed their own world record to humiliate the United States in the team pursuit final, flying along a spine-chilling, ear-splitting wall of noise in the 6,000 capacity London Velodrome.

The trio added to the men's pursuit and sprint teams titles and Victoria Pendleton's keirin gold as Britain continued their utter domination, having broken eight world records and left their rivals only one gold in three days.

On Saturday, King, Rowsell and Trott, at 20 years and 102 days the youngest Olympic gold medalist in women track cycling, produced an awe-inspiring display of power and poise and looked on the verge to lap the Americans in the final.

"They kept us going in that last kilometer. You couldn't even feel your legs, you were just driving forward," King told reporters.

"It's mad, I can't believe it, it's been my dream since I was eight, we've gone and done it. I don't think we expected it," said Trott.

"It's unbelievable. We didn't expect a Beatle to be here. It's not often that you can say you've waved and blown a kiss at a Beatle."

The last six times the trio took to the track, they broke the world record.

"You never want to be complacent but we had had a great day and I felt we had more to give coming into the final race," Rowsell said.

Canada took bronze by beating Australia, with Melissa Hoskins and Josephine Tomic appearing in tears before the media.

"I feel absolutely devastated. We left everything on the track so we can walk away with no regrets," said Tomic.

Australia, Britain's fiercest rivals on the track, have only collected two medals with the women's team sprint bronze and the men's team pursuit's silver.

"They're (Britain) in a league of their own," admitted American rider Jennie Reed.

The baby-faced Jason Kenny and triple world champion Gregory Bauge of France had both looked in a class of their own earlier on Saturday as they progressed to the quarter-finals of the individual sprint.

Both riders were without opponents in the last 16.

SPRINT FARCE

The enthusiasm surrounding the British track team is such that the Velodrome was already packed for the morning session, which turned into a farce essentially because of abstruse rules.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) felt they needed to spice up a format in which you can already lose twice and still advance by allowing 17 riders into the 1/16 final match-ups.

As a result, Briton Kenny, who was chosen by Team GB at the expense of defending champion Chris Hoy because only one rider per nation is allowed in the sprint events, found himself with no opponent as the morning session drew to an anti-climatic end.

With a training helmet, Kenny still had to start his match with Mr Nobody, covering half a lap waving at the crowd with a rather embarrassed look on his face.

Kenny made light work of his next actual opponent to ease into the quarter-finals with the other favorite, German Robert Foerstemann, the man whose tights are bigger than his wife's waist, going through a repechage race to advance.

The quarter-final matches will be held on Sunday with Kenny facing Azizulhasni Awan of Malaysia and Bauge taking on Foerstemann.

"He's ready, he's strong, he's British, they've been preparing for that. I hope I get to the end and he gets to the end, to have a good final," Bauge "the Black Pearl" said of Kenny.

There was some minor disappointment for Team GB, though, as Ed Clancy, who won the team pursuit on Friday, slipped to fourth overall in the omnium after taking an early lead with a smashing flying lap.

He fell behind after the points race and the elimination race won by Frenchman Bryan Coquard, who used his jockeying and positioning abilities to be the last man standing in a race which every two laps sees the last rider to cross the line being kicked out of the track.

The omnium, a six-discipline event held over two days, continues on Sunday with the 4-km individual pursuit, the 15-km scratch race and one-kilometer time trial.

Points are added up depending on placing in each event and the rider with the lowest points score wins.

Coquard has 10 points and leads the fourth-placed Clancy by seven points in a tightly contested event.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Nigel Hunt)

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