A bridge too far for golden boy Kenny
11:47am Monday 25th February 2013 in Sport
DAY four of the Track Cycling World Championships turned into something of an anti-climax for Jason Kenny.
Bolton’s three-time Olympic champion suffered a quarter-final defeat in the men’s individual sprint, bringing a premature end to his participation in his first major championships since he won two golds at London 2012.
But the 24-year-old still left Minsk with the prized rainbow jersey after sensationally riding to gold on Friday evening in the keirin.
It was Kenny's second World Championships title, but his first won on the track after the 2011 sprint crown was awarded retrospectively when France's Gregory Bauge was stripped of the prize for an anti-doping infringement.
Kenny, who was in the GB quartet that finished sixth in the team sprint, had struggled to even reach the kierin final, needing the repechage to get through the first round of the keirin and then relying on the relegation of French rider Francois Pervis to get through round two.
After losing out for third place in a photo-finish with Australia's Scott Sunderland, Kenny was reinstated and sent through to the final after Pervis was judged to have cut into him.
Once he was in the final, however, he rode the perfect race, squeezing through the six-man field on the penultimate lap and then powering past the German Maximilian Levy on the home straight.
After standing on the podium at a World Championships for the first time, Kenny said: “It was unbelievable.
“I put my hopes on Levy, saying I would stick to him and try and pass at the finish, which is how it worked out. I looked back and saw us all strung out like it was Chris Hoy leading us out. I still had a little bit to get through the finish.
“I was suffering a crisis of confidence after coming sixth in the team sprint. But a bit of luck finally went my way and the final lap unfolded perfectly.”
Earlier in the day, Bury’s Simon Yates – the surprise package of the British team – struck gold in the 160-lap 40km points race.
The 20-year-old, who was given little chance of making the podium when he arrived in Minsk, showed amazing tactical maturity, closing in on the riders above him by picking up points from sprints in the closing stages and then striking for the line on the last lap.
Yates said: "That was absolutely brilliant. I've had perfect preparation and the race worked out perfectly.
“I was trying to conserve energy at the start and then the race came to me and I started getting involved with the sprints and then I realised I was only one point behind with the final sprint coming up."
Yesterday, Yates completed his first major championships when he and Owain Doull finished 11th in the madison.
Britain finished top of the medal table with five golds – Becky James the star of the show with two of them after yesterday winning the women’s kierin following her success in the sprint on Saturday.