British women's pursuit team sets world record at track cycling championships

MANCHESTER, England -- Olympic time-trial champion Chris Hoy and former rowing world champ Rebecca Romero won Britain's fifth and sixth gold medals in the world track cycling championships Friday.

The women's pursuit team of Romero, Wendy Houvenaghel and Joanna Rowsell broke the world record twice -- in qualifying and in the final -- to defeat Ukraine in an event that is new to the track cycling program this year. It was the first time the team had competed together.

Germany beat Belarus for the bronze.

The British trio's time in the final was 3 minutes, 22.415 seconds. The previous world mark of 3:27.438 was set by Ukraine in January, but was officially only a "world best" because the team didn't formally claim it as a world record. Officials said the British intended to claim the record.

"What a day yesterday, then going through it all again today and finishing off so elated," Romero said after her second gold-medal ride in two days. "It was brilliant, the three did excellently with minimal preparation to go out there and put a stamp on the team pursuit."

Scottish rider Hoy edged World Cup champ Kevin Sireau of France in two races, on each occasion only by millimeters. Mickael Bourgain of France took the bronze, defeating Roberto Chiappa of Italy.

At the Athens Olympics, Hoy won the 1-kilometer time trial, but it was dropped from Beijing's program for BMX. Hoy turned to the sprint and keirin, which will be held on Saturday. He beat defending champion Theo Bos en route to Friday's sprint final triumph.

"It's a great boost to the confidence," Hoy said. "I know I've now got the potential and will to do it, but it's a whole different race when you get there."

Belarus won a second gold medal in the points race, contested over 160 laps with sprints every 10. Vasili Kiryienka held off a late charge from Christophe Riblon of France, who tried valiantly to lap the field for a 20-point bonus but left it too late.

Kiryienka finished with 24 points and Riblon had 23. Riblon had been stripped of five points for straying onto the strip at the bottom of the track.

"I was only over by about 3 centimeters and there was no one following me," Riblon said.

But he added he was very satisfied with his results and planned to do better in Beijing.

The 2006 world champion, Peter Schep of the Netherlands, finished third on 19 points.

The result was much-needed good news for the Belarusian team, which was shocked earlier in the day by a serious crash for eight-time world champion Natallia Tsylinskaya in the heats of the women's sprint.

Tsylinskaya crashed with Willy Kanis of the Netherlands and was taken away on a stretcher with a concussion and a shoulder injury.

With 10 of the 18 medals decided, Britain has six golds, and a good chance of improving on the unprecedented seven titles it took last year.

British rider Victoria Pendleton has already set herself up to defend her sprint title. She came within 0.08 of the world record -- which has stood for 15 years -- in the qualifying round, and easily qualified for the semifinals on Saturday. Pendleton is seeking to retain all three titles she won a year ago.

Also through was Jennie Reed of the United States, who defeated the newly crowned time-trial champion Lisandra Guerra of Cuba. The other two semifinalists are Simona Krupeckaite -- who beat World Cup winner Kanis -- and Guo Shuang of China.