April 04, 2012

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- World record times were set in the first two finals of the world track cycling championships Wednesday by the British men in the team pursuit and Germany in the women's team sprint.

Olympic champion Britain claimed the first gold medal at Melbourne's Hisense Arena, edging defending champ Australia in what many expect to be a preview of the Olympic gold-medal race in London.

Edward Clancy, Peter Kennaugh, Steven Burke and Geraint Thomas led from start to finish in a new world mark of 3 minutes, 53.295 seconds, eclipsing the 3:53.314 the team set to win gold at the Beijing Olympics.

Australia's Jack Bobridge, Glenn O'Shea, Rohan Dennis and Michael Hepburn finished in 3:53.401.

New Zealand (3:57.592) won the bronze medal after beating Russia (3:59.273).

British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford said it was an ideal result ahead of the London Games.

"If you were going to do it in any way possible, if you had a clean sheet of paper, 'How can we do this?' - this would be the way to do it," Brailsford said. "But there's nothing in it and we'll resume battle (at London) in 16 weeks."

Australian trio Shane Perkins, Scott Sunderland and Matthew Glaetzer won the men's team sprint in 42.266 seconds to beat Gregory Bauge, Kevin Sireau and Michael D'Almeida of France (42.267).

Chris Hoy's Olympic champion British team was initially to race for bronze, but was disqualified along with defending champion Germany, the United States and Greece for incorrect changes during qualifying.

New Zealand beat Japan for the bronze medal.

Ben Swift claimed Britain's second gold of the day when he held off a late surge by South Africa's Nolan Hoffman to win the men's 15-kilometer scratch race. Wim Stroetinga of the Netherlands finished third.

In the women's team sprint, Germany's Miriam Welte and Kristina Vogel beat three-time defending champs Anna Meares and Kaarl McCulloch of Australia in 32.549, the third world-best time of the day after they set a record in qualifying.

The previous record of 32.754 was by Britain at last month's World Cup in London.

Meares, however, scored an early win in her rivalry with Olympic and eight-time world champion Victoria Pendleton when Australia beat Britain in qualifying.

China went on to beat Britain for the bronze medal.

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