Team GB remain on course to retain their gold medal in the women’s cycling team pursuit after qualifying for the first round by going second fastest.
Germany set a stunning pace early on in qualifying after breaking the world record by nearly three seconds with a time of 4:07.307.
Laura Kenny had predicted before the Games that the mark of four minutes 10.236seconds that she set alongside Elinor Barker, Katie Archibald and Joanna Rowsell Shand would fall ‘three of four times’ this week.
Britain’s Katie Archibald, Laura Kenny, Elinor Barker and Josie Knight comfortably secured qualification for the first round of the team pursuit after going second fastest in qualifying
However, they faded in the final 1000m as they looked to eclipse Germany’s stunning time
The team of Kenny, Archibald, Barker and Josie Knight set off on an excellent pace to try and eclipse Germany’s time but despite starting brightly, struggled late on before finishing second.
Their time of 4:09.022 was nearly two seconds down on Germany, having led the first 3000m before fatigue set in the final 1000m.
Nonetheless the time recorded broke the previous world record they had set five years ago in Rio and hopes remain high they can still retain their Olympic title in Tokyo.
Archibald admitted that despite recording an impressive time, they were still disappointed with the result.
Germany smashed Team GB’s Rio world record by nearly three seconds to qualify fastest
‘We’re happy with the time, not the result,’ she told the BBC. ‘We thought we’d be just on the long side of what the Germans did and we just found out we didn’t have it in that last kilometre.’
Knight, who was making her Olympic debut, believes the team still have more potential to unlock.
She added: ‘I was incredibly nervous – I’m with three defending Olympic champions. We gave a good ride, but I think we’ve got more in the tank.’
Barker was also positive, insisting Britain could be happy with their time despite losing the record.
The four fastest teams qualify for the first round heats that provide the route to a gold medal
‘It was really sort of good,’ she said of seeing Germany go so fast so soon. ‘All the girls said the same thing. We knew the world record was going to be broken.
‘We fully expected it to be the Australians or the Americans so for it to happen when we weren’t looking meant we didn’t need to worry too much because the worst had happened.
‘We can be really, really happy. It’s important to remember the time we did in Rio was with two teams on the track, which is worth seconds, so to go that quickly with one team shows how much we’ve gained. I think we were about a second faster so to be able to do that on our own is quite a big step.
‘It’s just unfortunate that Germany were so much faster but I think we can be happy with that.
‘I hope (Germany can be beaten). They’ve not always been the most consistent but then again we haven’t really seen them for a year and a half so maybe it’s something they’ve worked on. It will certainly be interesting.’
Britain will now face USA in the first round on Tuesday morning for a place in the Olympic final
Team GB qualified as one of the four fastest teams and will now face the USA, who were third fastest in the first round on Tuesday, with the winner progressing to the gold medal final.
The United States, the reigning world champions, also rode faster than the Rio record with a time of 4:10.118.
The Americans were again anchored by Chloe Dygert, the individual pursuit champion who powered them to gold in Berlin.
The 24-year-old was troubled by the injuries from a horror crash last year as she struggled in the road time trial here on Wednesday, but looked in much stronger form on the track.
Germany will take on Italy in the other first round heat looking to reach the gold medal final.