Joanna Rowsell was full of praise for the quality in women’s cycling at the Tokyo Olympic Games after watching her team pursuit world record broken.
The women’s team pursuit world record had stood since the Rio Olympics five years ago, where the gold-winning British team of Rowsell, Laura Kenny, Katie Archibald and Elinor Barker set a time of 4:10.236.
But five years on, that time was smashed by Germany, with Franziska Brausse, Lisa Brennauer, Lisa Klein and Mieke Kroeger bettering the world record by over three seconds.
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“That is incredible, they had to go out, they had to go big as it was a relatively early qualification spot, and they are delighted with that,” Rowsell said.

Germany's Lisa Brennauer celebrates after setting a World Record with teammates during the women's track cycling team pursuit qualifying event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Izu Velodrome in Izu, Japan, on August 2, 2021

Image credit: Getty Images

Germany’s record ride was the fastest qualifying time in the session, but two other teams went close to matching them, with the USA and Team GB both dipping under the previous world record pace.
“What an amazing team pursuit qualification from the women there, three teams under the old world record before we started,” eight-time Olympic medalist Bradley Wiggins said from track-side in Tokyo.
“Our GB girls tried to match that amazing time put down before them, that world record from the Germans of course.
They were 1.2 seconds up at one point after Laura Kenny did a huge turn and Katie Archibald’s two and a quarter lap start for the women – that’s pretty unheard of in team pursuiting.
“There’s a little bit of tidying up to do for the match-off tomorrow, it’s very close at this stage – one team on the track is very different to having a straight race with another team on the other side of the track, so a lot more to come from GB.”
The Tokyo Games is only the third time that a women’s team pursuit has been part of the Olympic schedule, and only the second time that it has been ridden with four riders across four kilometres (the same distance as the men).
Rowsell was part of the trio who took gold in London in 2012 over 3km, with her world record still standing over that distance.
And the 32-year-old is the only member of Team GB’s record-setting quartet from Rio to have retired from the sport, with Kenny, Archibald and Barker still setting the standard in British cycling, joined by Josie Knight on Monday and with Neah Evans in contention for the fourth rider slot in Tuesday’s medal race.

Britain's Katie Archibald, Britain's Laura Kenny, Britain's Elinor Barker and Britain's Josie Knight compete in the women's track cycling team pursuit qualifying event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Image credit: Getty Images

But Rowsell was magnanimous in seeing her record go, lauding the continued strengthening of the sport.
“It’s great to see the event progressing, teams investing in their women’s squad, in their female riders and developing riders," she said.
Records are there to be broken and I want to see this event progress.
“That is blistering (from Germany), and qualification times are always a bit slower than final times as well, so how low can that record go?”
The final is scheduled for Tuesday.
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