Pendleton and Varnish disqualified in team sprint

There was heartbreak for Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish in the Olympic velodrome on the first day of track cycling competition. Britain’s team sprint duo were disqualified after seeming to have set up a final showdown with the Chinese riders. Both teams had set world records in qualifying.

Pendleton had made a mistake in the changeover, moving forward a little too soon. Although team boss Dave Brailsford tried to debate the issue with the officials, the Team GB riders were excluded.

"It was an illegal change," Pendleton admitted. "I came through about a metre too early. We are talking about one hundredth of a second of a mistake there. Jess moved up a fraction too early and I just saw the door and went for it, because that's my cue to try to squeeze underneath her as quickly as possible. We felt we were getting into that gold medal gear. But, now and again, rubbish things happen."

Pendleton was distraught for her team-mate. Although Pendleton still has medal chances in the keirin and individual sprint, Varnish had concentrated on the team event.

"She rode the best race of her life so far," Pendleton said. "I've got no doubt she will be back in Rio and absolutely smashing it. I'm also sorry for disappointing all the people who came here to support us."

The China team suffered from the same technicality in the final and were demoted, leaving the Germans to claim gold. The sombre and confused mood in the velodrome was only lifted when Chris Hoy and the men’s team sprint team secured gold and a new world record in spectacular style.

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