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Wheels are OFF for Team GB’s fallen cyclists: A decade of dominance was ended at the Velodrome

Records tumbled and so did riders. But at the end of this most dramatic of days, it was Great Britain who suffered the biggest fall of them all.

Jason Kenny and Team GB had won the men’s team sprint at each of the last three Olympics. Laura Kenny and Team GB had won the women’s team pursuit on both occasions it had been in the Games.

And yet, in the space of half an hour at the Izu Velodrome, a decade of dominance by a golden couple and their country was ended by three Dutchmen and four German girls. 

A decade of dominance for Team GB was ended by three Dutchmen and four German girls

It is not supposed to be like this for Britain at their medal factory. Even though we had been warned not to expect it to churn out pieces of gold like before, you still wondered if that was one big bluff. A case of under-promise and over-perform. After all, the track cycling team always come good at the Games, regardless of what has gone on in between.

However, this was no such ruse. Instead, what was apparent from Tuesday’s action is that the Kennys are not invincible and Team GB are no longer the track cycling force of old. Just look at the results of the two finals. They were not even close.

In the women’s pursuit, Kenny, Katie Archibald, Neah Evans and Josie Knight finished more than six seconds behind Germany, who obliterated a world record both they and Britain had broken earlier in the day.

‘We got beat, but we got really, really beat,’ admitted Archibald.

In the women’s pursuit, Kenny, Archibald, Evans and Knight finished six seconds behind Germany who obliterated a world record both they and Britain had broken earlier in the day

In the women’s pursuit, Kenny, Archibald, Evans and Knight finished six seconds behind Germany who obliterated a world record both they and Britain had broken earlier in the day

As a result, Kenny, Archibald, Evans and Knight claimed the silver medal instead

As a result, Kenny, Archibald, Evans and Knight claimed the silver medal instead 

Then, shortly after in the men’s sprint, Jason, Jack Carlin and Ryan Owens were more than three seconds off the Netherlands — a near lifetime over three laps of the track.

Yes, there is a lot to be said for silver, especially one which means Jason is now Britain’s most successful and most decorated Olympian. But this history- making husband and wife are not used to standing on the second step of the podium.

In fact, it is a position four-time champion Laura had never previously experienced in her Olympic career.

‘As an athlete, you want to win everything — we set our hearts on gold, we wanted to win gold,’ said Laura. ‘I glimpsed at my phone and so many people are saying, “You should be really proud of silver”, but I just do feel a bit disappointed.’

The day had started so well for the women. After surprisingly dropping Rio winner Elinor Barker for Evans, they beat the USA with a new world record to make it through to the final.

Germany, however, snatched that world record straight back in their victory over Italy to set up what looked like would be an epic showdown. It did not turn out that way.

In the men’s sprint, Jason Kenny, Jack Carlin and Ryan Owens (left) were more than three seconds off the Netherlands — a near lifetime over three laps of the track

In the men’s sprint, Jason Kenny, Jack Carlin and Ryan Owens (left) were more than three seconds off the Netherlands — a near lifetime over three laps of the track

Team GB were already more than a second down after 1km and the deficit continued to creep up until the bigger question was whether they would face the ignominy of the Germans catching them on the track.

Germany, who nobody had fancied coming into Tokyo, finished in a time of 4min 04.242sec — an incredible six seconds faster than Britain’s world record from Rio.

‘We knew they were going to go fast, just not that fast,’ said Laura, who still has two gold medal opportunities in the omnium and madison this week.

‘They were phenomenal. That’s going to be a record that stands for a long time.’

Team GB’s preparation for the final had not been helped by how things ended against the Americans, as Archibald crashed into Evans on the warm down lap, leaving them both battered and bruised.

‘It was mainly my pride that was hurt,’ added Archibald. ‘I wanted the ground to swallow me up.’

Nevertheless, the silver makes Jason GB's most successful and most decorated Olympian

Nevertheless, the silver makes Jason GB’s most successful and most decorated Olympian

Laura Kenny explained that her husband admitted to being 'nervous' for the first time ever

 Laura Kenny explained that her husband admitted to being ‘nervous’ for the first time ever 

It was just one of those days at the velodrome, and Laura even noticed something she had never seen before in her husband. ‘It was the first time he’s ever told me he was nervous,’ she revealed.

Jason, Carlin and Owens showed no sign of those nerves when they broke the Olympic record in their team sprint heat.

But the Dutch, the reigning world champions and world record holders, trumped that time in the next race and were always favourites for the final.

Nobody would have expected the gold medal race to be quite so one-sided, however. The Netherlands, having had the luxury of being able to rest one of their riders in the heats, led by 0.349sec after the second lap and then finished 3.220 clear, with Jason fading badly on the last 250m.

‘I had nothing in the final, I was rubbish,’ admitted the 33-year-old. ‘We poured our heart into the second ride to get to the final and then just rolled the dice in the final.

‘We were the second best team and we walked away with a silver medal. It went with the form. We’ve made a reasonable step but not enough.’

Elsewhere Madsen ploughed into Team GB's Charlie Tanfield during the men's cycling pursuit

Elsewhere Madsen ploughed into Team GB’s Charlie Tanfield during the men’s cycling pursuit 

Madsen (right), who wasn't looking where he was going, crashed into the back of Tanfield,

Madsen (right), who wasn’t looking where he was going, crashed into the back of Tanfield,

Madsen then jumped to his feet and appeared to shout abuse at Tanfield - despite being the one who caused the crash

Madsen then jumped to his feet and appeared to shout abuse at Tanfield – despite being the one who caused the crash

Jason must now dust himself down to begin the defence of his individual sprint title on Wednesday, before his keirin campaign starts on Thursday, although worryingly he said the team sprint was his ‘best chance of being on the podium’.

Whatever happens over the next few days, however, he is now unrivalled among the all-time British Olympic greats.

With six golds and two silvers, Jason has now bettered Sir Chris Hoy’s record of six golds and one silver. And while his overall haul of eight medals matches that of Sir Bradley Wiggins, his are better colours.

‘I limped over the line with a silver,’ grinned Jason. ‘The main thing is that I beat Chris because I know it will annoy him. He’s probably going to make a comeback for Paris now!

‘Over the next few days we will empty the tanks and give it all we have got and see if we can get something out of it.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk