Laoshan Velodrome, Beijing

The performance of the British team pursuiters is still floating around my head even after a night's sleep.

They have been contenders and medallists at World Championship and Olympic level for around a decade now, but finally pulled off the big one after winning a bronze medal in Sydney and silver in Athens.

To do it in a world-record time of three minutes 53.314 seconds was jaw-droppingly good - it was more than eight second faster than their silver-medal winning time in Athens and just short of five seconds faster than the Australians who beat them to gold.

But the thing that strikes me is there's every chance Britain will be just as competitive in four years' time.

The team pursuiters are a perfect illustration of the talent coming through the cycling programme.

Geraint Thomas, 22, and Ed Clancy, 23, are products of the system and hopefully have their best years ahead of them.

Bradley Wiggins is 28 and will still be around for London, while 20-year-old Steven Burke came out to Beijing as part of the team pursuit squad - but ended up being drafted into the individual event at 24 hours notice.

He excelled and collected an unexpected bronze medal while improving his time with each ride.

So as you can see, even with the retirement of Paul Manning, the next generation are already there.

Talking of the next generation, what about Jason Kenny in the men's sprint?

The 20-year-old from Bolton, who has already picked up one gold in Beijing, was a triple world junior champion two years ago and has made it into the last four of the competition in Beijing.

Among those potentially standing in his way? Team-mate and world champion Chris Hoy.

Simon Brotherton is a commentator for BBC Radio 5 Live, concentrating on the cycling in Beijing. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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  • 1. At 08:00am on 19 Aug 2008, Ineffectual Blatherer wrote:

    Not quite directly related to your post, sorry, but can you tell us why the BBC, in its capacity as official Olympic broadcaster, is unable to keep the medals table up-to-date.

    It seems bizarre to me that you don't appear to have any staff who are awake and can update the table outside UK office hours.

    How is it that the Channel 4 news site table is able to stay current? One presumes they have correspondents in Beijing who are able to update the website from there.

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  • 2. At 08:35am on 19 Aug 2008, editorsfoot wrote:

    Simon, surely one of your colleagues would ask if all this planning and preperation "is cricket?"

    British cycling hopefully has a competitive future to it, and with the right coaches in place the talent will be nurtured and developed.

    Perhaps what else needs to be developed is a network of velodromes, rather than selling them off for development or letting them fall into disrepair, as well as knowledgable media who don't just describe events as the "crazy madison" as a reporter on radio 1 has just said.

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  • 3. At 11:12am on 19 Aug 2008, akapaulfalvey wrote:

    Why are people so worried about the comments from Kelly Holmes about being a Dame. There are far more important things going on in Bejing in particular the success of our great cycling team.

    Surely we must not overshadow their success.

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  • 4. At 11:33am on 19 Aug 2008, Ian W - BBC Sport wrote:

    In reply to comment number one from popshed about the medals table - we can only apologise for the problems with this.

    We do have staff working overnight and during the day bashing out all the results and stats for the website and Ceefax.

    The medals table on the website is the only automated part of this process and unfortunately there have been some technical problems with this.

    Our technical team were on the case with this but some problems take longer to solve than others.

    Hopefully they are now resolved.


    Ian W - BBC Sport Interactive.

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  • 5. At 11:52am on 19 Aug 2008, Spaced Invader wrote:

    Why all this irrelevance about the operation of the medal table?! We're in the middle of GB's finest Olympic performance in any of our lifetimes, and people complain that the medal table is slow updating. Learn to cope with the disappointment!

    As for the cycling team, its odd to watch Hoy v Kenny in the sprint, as I can never wish for Hoy to be beaten, but for the future Kenny offers us so more potential. Maybe silver for Kenny this time would be ideal, to drive him forward towards London gold!

    I would also assume that Pendleton and Romero are odds on to be around for 2012?

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  • 6. At 12:19pm on 19 Aug 2008, pommiebasher wrote:

    Britain's medal performance in these games has been transformed by the performance of their cyclists. Without all the cycling medals GB's overall performance would be average. Shame that it is a sport so tainted by drugs that Britain excel at.

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  • 7. At 12:33pm on 19 Aug 2008, Lostboy wrote:

    Oh dear Pommiebasher, whinging is obviously deeply engrained in the genes then!

    A couple of things:

    So what if the sport is tainted, our cyclists have done it clean and proven what could happen with the right preparation!

    Let's have another look at the medal table shall we and work out how average we'd that's 3 golds and a silver from the sailing so far and two more potential medalists going tomorrow, another one in silver medal position in their fleet - and then the rowers...............

    No, sorry I can't be bothered, it's all a bit too easy.

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  • 8. At 12:44pm on 19 Aug 2008, mrchelsea69 wrote:

    Pommiebasher ........ take the swimming medals away from Australia and where would they be in the table?????

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  • 9. At 12:45pm on 19 Aug 2008, Lostboy wrote:

    But it would be remiss of me not to mention that Victoria Pendleton is standing on the podium above someone in green and gold :)

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  • 10. At 1:07pm on 19 Aug 2008, Board Stupid wrote:

    I would love to have the talents of David Brailsford and Peter Keen transferred to other sports to enusre we do even better in 2012.

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  • 11. At 1:12pm on 19 Aug 2008, FixedGuru wrote:

    As to the madison being "crazy", well it probably one of the most complex sports events. To follow what is going on requires concentration for the whole event, it is probably the one sports event where the spectators are more informed than the competitors!
    If you look away for a few seconds you can miss a critical move, it is an officials nightmare!
    It is probably the only remaining sporting event from the novelty era of the late 19th/early 20th century and was dreamt up to make the track distance events more exciting.
    Its is quite common for teams to celebrate a win, only to find out that they haven't won, because they missed some seemingly unimportant move earlier in the event, or even on the last lap. Furthermore incidents at the back of the field can be significant, as well as the obvious ones at the front. Watch the Canadians to see why.
    The madison should perhaps be considered as the physical equivalent of the more cerebral activities of curling, chess or snooker/pool.
    So the reporters comments are probably valid if you try to take it all in from a soundbite.
    Think of it more as a game of tag, combined with a relay race.

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  • 12. At 1:12pm on 19 Aug 2008, PeteinSQ wrote:

    Track cycling isn't tainted by drugs. You must have it confused with road cycling which is a completely different sport. Even so I take it you don't care for the successes of Australia's Robbie Mckewen?

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  • 13. At 1:13pm on 19 Aug 2008, FixedGuru wrote:

    Cycling is unlikely to let go of Dave Brailsford and Peter Keen is alstready doing this at UK Sport.

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  • 14. At 1:15pm on 19 Aug 2008, U9563463 wrote:

    Didn't the Aussies used to be good at cycling? Doubt the 'drug tainted image of the sport' bothered sheila then. What was that Aussie? Eight golds in the cycling for the Brits now eh?!!

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  • 15. At 1:16pm on 19 Aug 2008, pommiebasher wrote:

    I am just stating a well known fact that of all sports cycling is the most tainted by drugs. You can't deny that. Just check out this article from the BBC website:

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  • 16. At 1:17pm on 19 Aug 2008, pommiebasher wrote:

    Thanks for pointing out that > half your gold medals are from cycling. Exactly my point.

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  • 17. At 1:18pm on 19 Aug 2008, flashing blade wrote:

    Surely, David Brailsford will at last be awarded 'Coach of the Year'. Give this man the recognition he deserves!

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  • 18. At 1:18pm on 19 Aug 2008, pommiebasher wrote:

    Anyway get back to surfing the net or watching TV. I'm going out to play tennis

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  • 19. At 1:25pm on 19 Aug 2008, U9563463 wrote:

    'Without all the cycling medals GB's overall performance would be average.'

    Without all the swimming medal's Oz's overall performance would be avaerage.

    We have 15 gold so minus 8 cycling its 7 gold. The Aussies have 11 gold so minus 6 swimming gold it is 5 gold.

    By our antipodean's friends criteria, that makes Australia's performance even more average than Britains.

    Have fun playing tennis, I'm off to play squash myself.

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  • 20. At 1:26pm on 19 Aug 2008, badkube wrote:

    Nothing worse than a sore loser. Its so easy to try and knock an athelete or team these days that excel by simply inferring they must be on drugs. The GB cycling team have excelled at these Olympics - clean.

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  • 21. At 1:47pm on 19 Aug 2008, Bravosdad wrote:

    So, Pommiebasher, your link refers to road racing, skiing and athletics - what's your point re the Brit wins in the velodrome?

    And they call us whinging Poms.........

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  • 22. At 1:47pm on 19 Aug 2008, AussieInDubs wrote:

    #19 - you're right. Australia have under-achieved this Games. We were poor in the pool, the rowing, the track cycling, the shooting, archery, among others and still have come away with 11 Golds so far.

    Also, just wanted to say that I am delighted for Anna Meares to claim Silver only 7 months after breaking her neck while training in LA...

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  • 23. At 2:03pm on 19 Aug 2008, DaveC wrote:

    Just for the record, the endemic drug use in ROAD cycling goes way back ... after all it was perfectly legal when Tommy Simpson overdid it and died by the roadside in the TdF.

    Use of drugs (and blood doping) in long distance Tour races is all about increasing endurance, something that is simply not required in a velodrome. Absolutely, road racing is tainted by drug use, but the same cannot be said of track cycling.

    The truth is, in any medal table, most countries towards the top end will specialise (and therefore get a truckload of medals) in one or two sports. In GB's case it is cycling in particular. In Australia's case in past games that has been especially true in the pool (for Chris Hoy read Ian Thorpe).

    The USA always wins a truckload in the pool (take Michael Phelps' medals out of their total and see the difference it makes) and on the track, but not so many in a lot of the less visible, "minor" sports.

    In this games, GB will probably finish as the top nation in track cycling, saling and rowing, along with a smattering of medals from other sports. Pretty good, I would say, although it really is criminal that after all the money poured into it, our track and field team is still pretty poor.

    The Dwain Chambers situation only really served to highlight this ... after all, in how many other nations would a drug cheat come back from a two year ban and still be the best sprinter available?

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  • 24. At 2:07pm on 19 Aug 2008, AussieInDubs wrote:

    Dcacooper - I think the difference between Oz and GB is that since the start of the Olympics Australia have been a major force in swimming, where the track cycling is a recent thing for the Brits.

    I enjoy the competition and banter, though. Lord knows we get nothing from the irish!!

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  • 25. At 3:06pm on 19 Aug 2008, pommiebasher wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 26. At 3:20pm on 19 Aug 2008, Lostboy wrote:

    oops, another medal!

    How's your day Pommiebasher? You ought to keep practicing that tennis, after all you haven't got anyone in the top 50 now :)

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  • 27. At 3:26pm on 19 Aug 2008, pommiebasher wrote:

    Christine Ohuruogu is innocent

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  • 28. At 3:27pm on 19 Aug 2008, pommiebasher wrote:

    As was Linford Christie

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  • 29. At 3:27pm on 19 Aug 2008, pommiebasher wrote:

    Dwain Chambers mmmmm maybe not

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  • 30. At 3:31pm on 19 Aug 2008, pommiebasher wrote:

    I rest my case....

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  • 31. At 3:32pm on 19 Aug 2008, Lostboy wrote:

    I wasn't referring to her, I was referring to the high jump silver, but as you raise the issue - yes indeed, that's ANOTHER medal.

    How's your afternoon going?

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  • 32. At 3:34pm on 19 Aug 2008, bwthynygweilch wrote:

    Please can someone give the BBC presenters a guide to the pronounciation of Welsh names? Geraint Thomas is repeatedly referred to as Gerant. The names of many foreign athletes, some well known, others not, seem to trip off the tounge effortlessly, but they can't get the home-grown names right.
    As a rough guide, the aint rhymes with pint, and the emphasis is on the Ger.

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  • 33. At 3:38pm on 19 Aug 2008, pommiebasher wrote:

    Must be a first - lifetime Olympic ban and then wins a gold medal. The first gold medal ever won in a court of law

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  • 34. At 3:39pm on 19 Aug 2008, pommiebasher wrote:

    Must be hard up to count that one.

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  • 35. At 3:41pm on 19 Aug 2008, Lostboy wrote:

    By the way, how is the snow in the NRL?

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  • 36. At 3:44pm on 19 Aug 2008, pommiebasher wrote:

    Seriously though.... I think cycling should be removed from the Olympics because Britain are too good at it.

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  • 37. At 4:55pm on 19 Aug 2008, BadlyDrawnBhoy wrote:

    Is Mark Cavendish the only member of the GB Track Cycling team who'll be returning without a medal?

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  • 38. At 5:35pm on 19 Aug 2008, editorsfoot wrote:

    #11 my lifting of a sports reporter describing the madison as crazy was more aimed at the reporter who, if being a professional, would go and do a little research into one of our strong olympic events rather than deride it. Commisserations to Cav and Wiggins, I'm off out on my bike for the third time today, thanks for the inspiration to Team GB cycling!

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  • 39. At 10:06pm on 19 Aug 2008, Mike Mullen wrote:

    You can't expect much from Radio 1 by way of reporting; you don't listen to a music station to hear sports reporting. On the other hand they had no problem finding twenty minutes to discuss some deluded indvidual who failed an X-Factor audition, and interview him, and find out everything they could about him...

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  • 40. At 10:16pm on 19 Aug 2008, editorsfoot wrote:

    Well the reporter concerned is a BBC sports reporter and crops up on the football coverage and local tv in London so I am told, so you would expect some degree of willingness to find something out, as for her comments about the keirin earlier in the week .......

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  • 41. At 11:47pm on 19 Aug 2008, robby_rob wrote:

    Does anyone remember the interview with one of the managers from the British cycling team - maybe David BrailsFord on either Saturday 16th or Sunday 17th August with a BBC interviewer.... whereby when asked about the 'teams mindset' or how there are a step above the rest, he mentioned a type of 'mission statement' about the focus on the accumulation of small items that are missed and most people would say don't matter, but when you add them all together, they give you the edge over the other side? I've searched all over the BBC web site and can't find the interview.... all I wanted was the actual type of "mission statement" he used in the interview... Can anyone help??

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  • 42. At 01:25am on 20 Aug 2008, girlfromaus wrote:

    Bask in the glory all you want, it's the only thing you Poms are good at.

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  • 43. At 08:08am on 20 Aug 2008, editorsfoot wrote:

    Work your socks off, and make it the whinging aussies and not the whinging poms.

    If that wasn't the mission statement it seems to have become it after reading these blogs

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  • 44. At 11:02am on 20 Aug 2008, obrees-offspring wrote:

    think it was something like 'the aggregation of marginal gains' something like that

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