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British cyclists stun the world
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British cyclists stunned the world by snatching their fifth track cycling gold after breaking their own world record to win men's team pursuit at the Beijing Olympic Games in Laoshan velodrome on Sunday.

Led by two-time Olympic pursuit champion Bradley Wiggins, the British clocked a new world record of three minutes 53.314 seconds in the final to win the gold, beating Denmark by 6.7 seconds to the second place.

Denmark took the silver, while New Zealand got the Bronze.

"I just cannot believe it. We knew it was fast, but 3:53.3," Thomas said, "That's going to go down in history, that time won't be broken in a long time, we're the best team in the world."

The British quartet, who were beaten by the Australians in the 2004 Athens Games, stood on the podium with smiles on their face, received cheers from British fans.

"I know how much these guys have sacrificed for this one event - it's just fantastic to be part of this team. We've come a long way in four years," Wiggins said.

Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas and Paul Manning came over the finish line together in world record time, having raced as a trio for the final three and a half laps after losing Wiggins, something allowed in an event where the clock is stopped when the third member of a team completes the course.

"It was phenomenal. Yesterday I was pretty down after the first couple of rounds because I wasn't my normal self and didn't want to let these guys down," Wiggins added.

The 27-year-old will aim for a third gold in Beijing when he pairs up with Mark Cavendish in Tuesday's Madison race.

If Wiggins wins three medals at the Games, he will become the track cyclist with the most medals in Olympic history, breaking a record that has stood for 104 years.

Earlier, Marianne Vos of the Netherlands stole the limelight of the day from British Rebecca Romero by winning the women's points race, becoming the second non-Briton so far to win a track cycling gold at Beijing Games as Joan Llaneras of Spain won the men's edition last Saturday.

The 21-year-old world champion dominated the race well and became the only rider to overlap the peloton, collecting a total of 30 points for the gold.

The silver medal was taken by Cuban Yoanka Gonzalez with 18 points, while the bronze medal went to Leire Olaberria of Spain in 13 points.

"A couple of laps before the end I knew (I would win). All the attacks stranded at half a lap. Winning the gold is wonderful." Vos said.

Vos, the first woman to have won world championships in road, track and cross country mountain bike, was satisfied with her first Olympic gold.

"I knew track was completely different. I didn't feel bad in the road race or the time trial. It felt good in training so I had confidence for this." She said.

Britain's Rebecca Romero, who triumphed in the women's individual pursuit last Sunday, finished 11th in just the second points race she has competed in.

"I've had a long four days. Physically my legs aren't in peak shape today. I think the idea was that I was the only British rider who could ride in the points race so I had a go at it in the last minute, but this was my fourth day in a row to get up and go through race preparation again, and it was tough." Romero said.

The race featured a crash in the early stage, which forced Sarah Hammer of the United States, Japanese Satomi Wadami and Verena Jooss of Germany all withdraw from the race.

Chinese Li Yan amassed six points to earn a 10th place finishing with an outstanding first-place run in the 50th lap.

"I've tried my best today. But the development of cycling in China, and even in Asia, is still far away from the international level," Li said.

In womens's sprint quarterfinals, Chinese Olympic hopeful Guo Shuang successfully ousted Natallia Tsylinskaya of Belarus with a convincing 2-0 win. She will face Anna Meares of Australia in the semifinals on Tuesday.

Britain has now won nine medals on the track, five of them being gold so far, and there are further hopes with Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny contesting the men's sprint, Victoria Pendleton the women's sprint and Wiggins and Mark Cavendish the madison on Tuesday.

(Xinhua News Agency August 18, 2008)

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