Cycling World Championships: Wendy Houvenaghel’s golden smile
Wendy Houvenaghel and her Great Britain team-mates, Laura Trott and Dani King produced a stunning ride to clinch the gold medal in the team pursuit at the World Track Cycling Championships in Apeldoorn last night.
The trio led from start to finish beating the United States' Sarah Hammer, Dotsie Bausch and Jennie Reed by almost two seconds.
It’s the third world title in the event for the Upperlands rider who had previously won in 2008 and 2009 but had to settle for silver twelve months ago.
“It’s really special and incredible to be on that top spot on the podium again and that’s where we want to stay,” she said.
Throughout the last number of years Houvenaghel has been the constant in the GB team, racing with a number of different combinations at world cups and World and European Championships.
Yesterday she was joined by 18 year-old Laura Trott and 20 year-old Dani King, two of the promising crop of riders in their first world championships.
“It’s just fantastic, the girls bring so much to the team and to the actual event and they give a lot to the squad and it’s been a pleasure riding with them especially in a World Championship winning ride,” added Houvenaghel.
“These girls have come such a long way in such a short space of time and that means that in the next sixteen months there’s a lot of leeway to improve a lot more and I’m very excited about the prospects of what we can achieve in London.
“It also bodes well for me as a person within the pursuit squad. I’ll just keep working hard and make sure I get into all the line-ups going between now and London. Ultimately winning that gold medal is the goal.”
The trio had qualified fastest for the final recording a time of three minutes 23.642 seconds which was just 0.3 of a second quicker than the Americans but they were never really troubled in the final.
At 1000m they had opened a gap of 1.3 seconds and increased it all the way to the line clocking a time of 3:23.419 with the USA trailing behind in 3:25.308.
“We had confidence going into the final after setting the quickest time,” reflected Houvenaghel.
“We changed the order a little bit so I could do more endurance during the second half of the race and we went through the motions and did what we needed to do and came away with the gold medal.”
Houvenaghel will now take a well deserved holiday before the long road to London gets underway in earnest in July this year when she’ll resume training.
There will be world cups to attend including one at the new Olympic velodrome in February 2012 before the final world championships before the ‘big one’ in Melbourne next March.
Then mark the date in your diary — Saturday August 4 2012 — the Olympic final. At the moment everything looks right on target.