GWENT’S Becky James and Great Britain teammate Jess Varnish won World Championship bronze medals in Colombia overnight.
The duo claimed the first British medal of the championships in the team sprint by defeating Russia for third place, with Germany and China claiming gold and silver respectively
Abergavenny ace James, who won two golds at the same event in Belarus 12 months ago, added another medal to her collection on the opening day of the Track Cycling World Championships in Cali, Colombia.
Varnish and James claimed third in the women’s team sprint to rescue a poor day for Britain, the dominant track nation for some time, after the men’s team pursuit and team sprint squads failed to advance to their respective medal ride-offs.
Varnish and James won the ride-off for bronze ahead of Russia, clocking 33.032.
James, still only 22, won medals in all four of her events in Minsk in 2013, including two golds and bronze in the team sprint, and has started off in the same vein 12 months on.
She said: “I’ll take everything a day at a time. Got today out the way and got a bronze medal. I’ll see how each day goes and do my best.”
Germany’s Miriam Welte and Kristina Vogel, the Olympic champions and world record holders, won a third straight world title in 32.440, with China second.
Varnish added: “It was a solid performance."
“It’s a really different track to what we’ve ridden on and you can’t really compare it to other performances. I think we should be happy.
“It’s a really good start.”
The World Championships are taking place in Colombia at a track exposed to the elements, with a roof but without walls, but the forecast rain did not arrive and disrupt proceedings.
But Ed Clancy, Jon Dibben, Risca’s Sam Harrison and fellow Welshman Owain Doull finished a lowly eighth - Britain’s worst result in at least 15 years - in the four-man, four-kilometre event.
There were few excuses for Britain’s team pursuit squad, including Clancy, but without another London 2012 gold medallist in Steven Burke due to illness.
The British quartet finished in 4:04.419 to place eighth, while defending champions Australia went on to win gold in 3:57.907, ahead of fastest qualifiers Denmark (3:59.632).
Clancy said: “We knew a week ago our back was against the wall. (But) despite the fact we didn’t have a couple of our more established riders in the line-up, we were still hoping to get a ride in the final.”
And London 2012 champions Phil Hindes and Jason Kenny combined with Kian Emadi to place fifth in the three-man, three-lap team pursuit.
Kenny has twice won Olympic gold in the event, but never the world champion’s rainbow jersey and Britain’s wait for a men’s team sprint world title will extend to 10 years at least.
Britain have not won the world title since 2005 - when Sir Chris Hoy, in Cali as a team mentor, was part of the squad - and for a third successive year they have now missed out on a medal.
New Zealand qualified fastest and Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Ed Dawkins won the final in 42.840 ahead of Germany (42.885).
Dani King was eighth and Ireland’s Caroline Ryan 14th in a scratch race won by Belgium’s Kelly Druyts.
King is reserve on day two, when Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell, Katie Archibald and Cardiff cyclist Elinor Barker bid for women’s team pursuit gold in the highlight of day two’s events.