Wendy Houvenaghel strolled to success in the individual pursuit and Lizzie Armitstead claimed gold in a tight points race but Anna Meares stole the show by winning two gold medals.
3km Induvidual Pursuit
The individual pursuit turned out to be a no-contest with regards to the fight for gold as Wendy Houvenaghel eased to victory over Australian Josephine Tomic.
The signs were looked good for the 34 year old as she qualified easily in the afternoon session with a time of 3:30.800, almost nine seconds faster than her final opponent Tomic.
Again she outclassed her younger competitor in the last race with a time of3:31.929, making the catch with 250m of the race remaining. It was an impressive performance
Houbenaghel said: “The event today went very well for me, I have picked up where I left off from last years World Cup series and I will bring that forward into tomorrow’s team pursuit.”
Tomic, 20, was satisfied with her performance and praised her opponent, saying: “I have only been doing this for two years and I came to try and get a personal best which I wasn’t able to because [Houvenaghel] caught me. I was aiming to hold her off but she was too good tonight.”
500m Time Trial
A last gasp effort from Anna Meares secured gold for the Australian ahead of Victoria Pendleton and Willy Kanis (Netherlands).
Riding in the penultimate heat, Pendleton sprinted to a personal best time of 33.838 seconds as an air of inevitability swept the Manchester Velodrome. However, Meares succeeded in ruining the moment for the British fans as she cruised home in 33.632 seconds.
Kanis was not too far behind Pendleton but the day belonged to Meares who was riding against reigning world champion Simona Krupeckaite (Lithuania) who finished down in fourth place.
After the ceremony, a triumphant Meares said: “It has been a long time since I have raced internationally so I am very happy to be on the top step of the podium.”
With another event to come at the end of the day, the 26 year old added: “I am really happy to have come away with gold from here and I am looking forward to riding in the team sprint with Kaarle [McCulloch] tonight.”
Similarly, Pendleton was content with her silver medal, saying: “I have never gone under 34 seconds before so I am really pleased.
“I am not a 500m specialist and I am not about to start wasting my time on it, I did it because I didn’t have a team sprint partner. It was a PB by far for me and is a good step in the right direction for the team sprint event,” she added.
Reigning champions Australia once again won team sprint gold and capped a fantastic day for Anna Meares who won her second gold of the day, along with team mate Kaarle McCulloch.
The Aussies eased to victory in the final against the Netherlands with a winning time of 33.653 seconds as Great Britain’s Rebecca James and Jessica Varnish narrowly missed out on bronze, which went to Germany.
Although the final ride was impressive, it was slower than their qualifying ride, which was timed at 33.363. The victory would have been particularly pleasing for Meares as she has not long come back from an injury suffered in January of last year and has not cycled internationally since the Olympics.
Rightly pleased, she said: “I am really stoked, it has been a great evening. I have done a lot of preparation and work in Adelaide for this competition particularly. I really wanted to get this season off to a good start and I have done that so I am really pleased.”
McCulloch added: “I would have liked to go a bit faster tonight but my preparation was a little bit interrupted by illness so I am pretty happy to have come away with the win today.”
Lizzie Armitstead made up for a disappointing scratch race by claiming gold in the points race on Saturday.
Armitstead finished with 16 points, five clear of reigning champion Yumari Valdivieso Gonzalez (Cuba). Gonzalez was, in turn, just one point ahead of Russian Evgeniya Romanyuta who tied up bronze.
Unlike the two qualifying rounds, no one managed to gain any laps but it was not for the want of trying, Vera Koedooder (Netherlands) was the first to try and attack the field.
Armitstead was quiet in the early stages but turned up the heat for the last two sprints of the race, both of which she won.
The qualifying was much more eventful and Armitstead was well in control of her heat. After seeing Wan Yiu Jamie Wong of China attack, she led a group of four others who worked well together. Evgeniya Romanyuta (Russia), Vera Koedooder (Netherlands) and Tatsiana Sharakova (Belarus) reacted and the bunch of eight lapped the field.
In the other heat Ireland’s Heather Wilson led Penny Day (Posh of Holmwood, New Zealand) and Tatiana Guderzo (Gruppo Sportivo Fiamme Azzure, Italy) on a successful attack to qualify for the final.
Armitstead had admitted to not being in the best of form coming into the championships and said: “It was absolutely solid and one of the hardest points races I have ever done. They are hard enough when you have good form, when you are slightly off it is just painful from beginning to end.”
She races in the team pursuit tomorrow with Wendy Houvenaghel and Joanna Rowsell and the Otley-born rider hinted that they will be hard to beat: “We have been going really well in training and should be on for a pretty surprising time.”
photos Janos Schmidt