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Wendy Houvenaghel hailed the power of youth as Great Britain claimed women's team pursuit gold at the track cycling World Championships.

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Great Britain were quickest in qualifying and then stormed to victory against the United States in the final, taking an early advantage and then pulling clear, crossing the line nearly two seconds ahead of the silver medallists in 3.23.419.

Houvenaghel, the Olympic individual pursuit silver medallist in Beijing, had been quietly confident about Great Britain's chances in Apeldoorn, despite the absence of Rebecca Romero, Lizzie Armitstead and other experienced endurance riders.

But British Cycling has always invested and trusted in youth and Dani King and Laura Trott - just 18 and 20 respectively - proved more than capable deputies, staking major claims ahead of next year's London 2012 Olympics.

Houvenaghel was the only surviving member of the squad which posted the second-fastest time in history in Manchester last month with Sarah Storey omitted due to her involvement in the recent para-cycling World Championships and Joanna Rowsell travelling as a reserve.

But King and Trott clearly were not fazed by their senior World Championship debut.

"This is right up there with the achievements in my career and this is a massive positive on our journey towards London," said Houvenaghel. "We are where we want to be but there is lots of room for improvement but these girls, in their first major championships, did amazingly well.

"It's important we keep our feet on the ground and not get distracted."

Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish settled for silver in the women's team sprint as Australia's Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch proved just fractionally too strong.

But Pendleton, an eight time world champion, was upbeat about a trajectory she believes will lead to a reversal next year.

"Last year we were fourth and this year we've picked up silver with a really good time and that's what we need to look for as we go towards London 2012," she said. "We are still improving as a team and we've got a lot to look forward to. We don't want to peak too early."

Olympic sprint champion Pendleton will now look to individual targets in the sprint and keirin and her early medal has certainly buoyed her confidence after mixed results at the recent World Cup in Manchester.

"I felt a bit flat during the Manchester World Cup because I knew my form wasn't there, the numbers don't lie and I wanted to be in better position," said Pendleton, who admitted during that event she was struggling to focus on anything other than next year's Olympics.

"I've dedicated a lot of time to sprint training this season and it hasn't really paid off but in the last few weeks I have started to feel a lot more positive and the rest of the week looks good now."

Britain are also guaranteed at least one medal in the men's sprint after both Sir Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny qualified to Friday’s semi-finals, where they will be joined by France's Mickael Bourgain and Gregory Bauge - a last four line-up that makes a mockery of the decision to limit nations to only one rider per event at London 2012.

Hoy, who celebrated his 35th birthday yesterday, proved too strong for Germany's Robert Forstemann in the quarter-finals, progressing unbeaten against the rider who beat him in Copenhagen 12 months ago.

Meanwhile Kenny was forced to three races by Australia's Shane Perkins.

RESULTS:

Women’s team pursuit

Gold: Great Britain

Silver: USA

Bronze: New Zealand

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Women’s team sprint

Gold: Australia

Silver: Great Britain

Bronze: China

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Men’s individual pursuit

Gold: Jack Bobridge (Aus)

Silver: Jesse Sergent (New Zealand)

Bronze: Michael Hepburn (Aus)

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