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The final of the men's team pursuit went according to script on Monday with world champions Australia taking gold and the British quartet of Bradley Wiggins, Steve Cummings, Paul Manning and Rob Hayles silver.

The medal took Britain's tally passed the total of 20 achieved in Barcelona in 1992 and gave cycling its third of these Games.

But the British foursome's happiness was tinged with disappointment that they did not run the Australians closer at least forcing them to break the world record of 3mins 56.342secs they had set in qualifying. Instead, the Australians won by more than three seconds with Britain coming home in 4mins 01.76secs, almost two seconds slower than the time they recorded to reach the final.

Although the cooler, windy conditions partly explained the slower times, Cummings admitted: “We are disappointed that we couldn't finish the job.”

The British quartet set themselves a target of 3.57.00 but never looked like achieving it. Australia led from the first of the 16 laps of this most democratic of events where each rider takes a turn to lead the team to maintain the speed as they chase down the opposition. The reigning world champions of Graeme Brown, Brett Lancaster, Luke Roberts and Brad McGee were more than one second ahead at the 1,000 metre mark a lead they gradually increased. “They are the world record holders, they are the best team in team pursuit there has ever been,” said Wiggins, who had beaten McGee in the individual pursuit final on Saturday. “If it wasn't for those four guys we would have been on top of the world for the past four or five years.”

Hayles, was parachuted into the quartet after the team had qualified for the final. That meant that Chris Newton, who rode on Sunday, and Bryan Steel, who took part in qualification, missed out on medals as only those who compete in the final are given them.

In the bronze medal race, the German quartet went off too fast, taking nearly a one second lead over Spain by the 500m mark, just two laps in. Gradually the Spanish foursome clawed them back to win in a time of 4.05523.

In the individual sprint, Britain's Ross Edgar, lost his best of three quarter-final against Theo Bos of the Netherlands.

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