Great Britain's Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish this evening set a new world record of 32.654 seconds for the team sprint as they beat world champions Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch to win the first gold medal of the London round of the UCI Track World Cup Classics London at the Olympic Velodrome. Shortly afterwards, the British women's team pursuit squad repeated the feat with another world record performance.
In a thrilling team sprint, Varnish set a new personal best for the opening lap - and the fastest ever by a British woman - of 18.792 seconds, but Meares was two tenths of a second quicker, but with a partisan crowd yelling its encouragement Pendleton put in a second lap of 13.962 seconds to beat the Australian pair and take the world record off them.
Cofirmation of the speed of the London track had come earlier in the day in the semi-finals when Meares and McCulloch themselves had improved their existing world record, completing the 500 metres in 32.828 seconds.
After the final, Varnish said: "I can't believe it I need to pinch myself. I didn't think I could go faster, I was feeling fatigued. But hopefully we can repeat this in the Olympics."
Pendleton added: "It sends out the message that we are a force to be reckoned with. We tried something new with the gears in the final and we have learned something. It was a risk but now is the time to experiment - before the worlds and the Olympics. The crowd were unbelievable - I was shaking on my bike."
China edged out France in the race for bronze.
Meares and McCulloch weren't the only Australian women to set a new world record this evening - the Cyclones team pursuit squad did so in the bronze medal race with the Netherlands.
However, their new world's best time lasted just minutes rather than hours as Great Britain, with Dani King drafted in to join Joanna Rowsell and Laura Trott for the final in place of Wendy Houvenaghel set a time of 3 minutes 18.148 seconds to beat Canada by a deceptively easy margin, with the silver medallists also getting inside the Australian time.
Great Britain's men had to be content with bronze in the men's team sprint, with Ross Edgar, Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy - who picked up his 50th world cup medal - beating Australia in the third-place run-off, having recorded the fourth fastest time in qualifying.
Given recent events off the track, the final saw an intriguing pairing of France, stripped of their world championship last month as a result of Grégory Baugé's disqualification for whereabouts violations, up against the team awarded the world championship in their place, Germany.
Baugé himself went off first for France in a line-up also including Kevin Sireau and Mickael D'Almeida, but Germany's Rene Enders was quicker over the first lap, and Germany, their team completed by Robert Forstemann and Maximillian Levy, led from start to finish on their way to clinching gold.
Thanks to Dene from il Soigneur for the pic
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.