New Zealand fastest in team pursuit qualifying

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France (AP) France won gold in the men’s team sprint competition at the track cycling world championships on Wednesday after fastest finisher New Zealand was relegated in the final.

New Zealand, the 2014 gold medalists, crossed the line first but saw the medal go instead to Gregory Bauge, Kevin Sireau and Michael d’Almeida of France after race officials ruled that New Zealand’s first relay began a fraction of a second too early.

The French squad, which had set the second-fastest qualifying time behind New Zealand’s 42:892, improved its bronze medal finish last year with a winning time of 43:136 over three laps of the 250-meter track. Germany finished third.

Chinese riders Jinjie Gong and Tianshi Zhong set a new world record of 32:034 to take home gold in the women’s team sprint, ahead of teams from Russia and Australia.

In the other medal race on the competition’s first day, Germany’s Stephanie Pohl won gold in the women’s points race.

In qualifying for the men’s team pursuit, New Zealand set the fastest time of 3:56:421 and will face Switzerland in the next round on Thursday. Second-fastest finishers in the four-man, four kilometer discipline Great Britain will take on Germany for a place in the gold medal race.

Australia, the 2014 champions, managed a fifth-fastest time after a broken crank led to a crash and restart.