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Thursday, March 27, 2008
Britain sets two world marks, sweeps golds at track world championships

Associated Press

MANCHESTER, England -- Britain broke two world records and completed a gold-medal sweep in the world track cycling championships Thursday.

The men set a team pursuit record and the women's team broke the sprint mark.

Former rower Rebecca Romero became a two-sport champion when she emerged victorious in the individual pursuit for Britain's fourth gold in the velodrome.

Bradley Wiggins, Paul Manning, Geraint Thomas and Edward Clancy powered ahead of Denmark to finish in 3 minutes, 56.322 seconds in the 4-kilometer pursuit final.

"We knew we could step up and put together a ride," said Wiggins, who won an individual gold Wednesday. "We had been training at that sort of speed on that track. It was just a case of putting it together on the day.

"We knew we were bang on world record pace the whole way through."

The Danes finished in 3:59.381. Australia, which set the previous world record at the 2004 Olympics, was third in 4:00.089, ahead of New Zealand.

Victoria Pendleton and Shanaze Reade successfully defended their title in the sprint in 33.661, after setting a world record of 33.186 in qualifying.

After the first lap in the final China was ahead. Reade blamed a technical fault with the gate for delaying her start. Pendleton led the fightback and surged ahead to snatch gold. Germany edged France to take bronze.

"This is only the beginning for me," said Pendleton, who has two more golds to defend. "It's going to be harder this year being an Olympic year and everyone raising their game."

"To win the title and break a world record is absolutely amazing," added 19-year-old Reade, the world BMX champion.

Two years after transferring from boat to bicycle, Romero beat two-time world champion Sarah Hammer by almost 7 seconds.

Romero clocked 3:30.501 to end the American's supremacy in the individual pursuit and exact revenge after last year's title defeat.

Romero's confidence is soaring in her bid to reach the Olympic podium in two different sports after winning rowing silver at the 2004 Games. She also won gold in the quadruple sculls at the 2005 worlds.

"It's virtually two years to the day since coming here and getting on a bike," Romero said after the race at Britain's national cycling center. "There is so much more to be working on and to be learning. After last year's results, to go that one step further is so difficult but I wanted it so badly."

Hammer knew very quickly in the final that she would be beaten, and vowed to return stronger in Beijing.

"After four laps I was thinking 'Let's get this over with,' " she said. "I couldn't be happier. I am thrilled I get to stand on the podium with great company."

Former world champion Katie Mactier of Australia beat Wendy Houvenaghel of Britain in the bronze-medal race.

After seven events, Britain has four gold medals. The others have gone to France, Cuba and Belarus.

In the men's sprint, Dutchman Theo Bos' title defense was brought to a halt by Chris Hoy of Britain in the quarterfinals.

Hoy will compete for the medals Friday with Frenchmen Kevin Sireau and Mickael Bourgain and Italy's Roberto Chiappa.