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Jason Kenny might have become Team GB’s most successful Olympian ever, but he is backing teammate Jack Carlin to succeed him on the podium in the individual sprint.
The pair were part of the GB team sprint squad, alongside Ryan Owens, that won silver on Tuesday behind the Dutch, and on Wednesday they kicked off their individual sprint campaigns.
Kenny won gold in the event in London and Rio, the first of those coming when he was preferred to Sir Chris Hoy, with only one rider per country allowed at the time.
Now teams can enter two and Kenny played down his own chances, instead saying it is teammate Carlin who is the best shot of a medal, with the six-time Olympic champion only qualifying eighth fastest before being pushed all the way in the next two rounds to make the last 16.
He said: “Jack is really strong and is in a really good position obviously. He’s definitely our best chance. The Dutch boys are fast, a little bit quicker but Jack’s got the edge in racing. He’s a good racer and if he keeps it together he’s in a really good position.
“From my point of view, I’ll keep chipping away. I’m playing a bit of a supporting role for the first time. If I can knock some out that’s one place closer to the podium and that’s the way I’m looking at it. Keep hammering away and take as many people as I can.”
The 24-year-old Carlin looked in impressive form as he qualified third fastest and then eased through the rounds, despite a minor scare in a win over Malaysia’s Muhammad Sahrom, live on Eurosport and discovery+.
While Dutch duo Jeffrey Hoogland and Harrie Lavreysen broke the Olympic record that Carlin set in qualifying, Kenny is backing Carlin’s race craft to make the difference.
And the Scot was certainly happy with his own form.
He said: “It was nice to put a time on the board that I have been kind of showing a bit of a sign of in training. It’s been a long time since I’ve raced but so far so good.
“The qualifying is so close now, the speeds are so high that anyone could really win it.”
After the excitement of Tuesday in the men’s team pursuit, there were some rumblings of a potential late disqualification for Denmark over a kit dispute.
Great Britain were one of a number of teams who had appealed over the Danes’ use of skin tape and under-vests but the UCI gave them just a warning, and the Scandinavians rode in the final against Italy.
That race was an absolute epic, with Denmark looking certain to take it, only for the Italians to come through as Filippo Ganna put in a huge turn to take gold, with both teams breaking the world record.
Earlier, Team GB broke the national record on their way to seventh, with Charlie Tanfield enjoying a better day than his Olympic debut when he was parachuted in at the last minute and suffered the ignominy of being dropped and then crashed into by the Danes.
To add insult to injury, literally, Denmark’s Frederik Madsen had screamed at a stricken Tanfield – a reaction which did not go down well.
Tanfield said: “He apologised to me. Initially I didn’t really realise what he said or did because I just got straight back on the bike because we had a chance to still win.
“I don’t know what the rules are saying but it wasn’t very sportsmanlike. I wasn’t very impressed by his behaviour but he apologised and we move on.
“It looked personal but we’ve all committed three years of our life to this and for anything bad to happen, it’s devastating so you can be angry. Just don’t take it out on me.”
Meanwhile, Katy Marchant got her Olympics underway by securing her place in the quarter-finals of the women’s Keirin.
A bronze medallist in the individual sprint in Rio, Marchant won her first heat, only to be later relegated but came through the repechage in impressive fashion.
She said: “I think tactically the racing was really good. I just had a mishap coming into turn three (in the heat) but that’s another opportunity to practice and I’d rather learn that lesson in the first round than in the semis or finals tomorrow.”
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