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High drama at track as Hoy triumphs
By Roger Vaughan
06:56 AEST Fri Aug 3 2012

World records fell repeatedly, tempers frayed, tears were shed and two controversial rulings had stunning ramifications in the first session of Olympic track cycling.

In an ominous reminder of their domination at the Beijing Games velodrome, the Great Britain track team opened the program with three world record rides and the men's team sprint gold medal.

Australians Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch had to settle for bronze in the team sprint after dominating the event from 2009-11.

While it was a triumphant opening session for the host nation, they also paid dearly for a mistimed changeover between the legendary Victoria Pendleton and Jessica Varnish in their round-one team sprint ride.

They easily won the heat and were set to face China in the final, but the British were disqualified for the high-speed mistake.

There was even higher drama after the gold medal ride, where the Chinese beat world champions Germany.

As the four riders spoke to trackside media, there was an announcement that Shuang Guo and Jinjie Gong were also relegated to the silver medal for their changeover.

Their French coach Daniel Morelon argued fiercely with officials, but to no avail.

The British disqualification worked to Australia's advantage - rather than have a tough ride-off for the bronze against Germany, they had no trouble dispatching Ukraine.

But it was a consolation prize for the Australians, who had lost the world title to Germany earlier this year.

McCulloch ruefully noted that the Australians became faster through the three rounds.

Meares admitted: "We had to deal with a little bit of disappointment and get back out on the track tonight."

Meares is also one of the favourites for the sprint and keirin.

"I have absolute faith in her - she's going to pull something special out in front of this patriotic crowd," McCulloch said of her teammate.

There were six world record rides - two by China in the early women's team sprint rounds and four from Great Britain in the men's team pursuit qualifying, briefly in the women's team sprint qualifying and in the men's team sprint (twice).

China now has the women's team sprint world mark of 32.422 seconds and the British 4000m team pursuit squad reduced their own world record from three minutes 53.295 seconds to 3:52.499.

Their Australian arch-rivals qualified second-fastest in 3:55.694 despite losing starter Glenn O'Shea with just under 1500m left.

But the last world record of the session was the best for the British.

Chris Hoy won his fifth Olympic gold medal as he, Phil Hindes and Jason Kenny beat France in the final and broke their own record with 42.600.

Hoy, normally an unflappable character, was in tears as he celebrated the win and was also emotional at the medal ceremony.

Germany beat Australia for the bronze medal - a repeat of what happened at the last Olympics.

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