Pendletons arch rival, Anna Meares of Australia, roared to the front but she went too early. The canny Pendleton, whose petite size belies her strength, passed Meares with two laps to go, pushing her pedals with a burst of power and withstanding the pain in her quadriceps to hold off two other charging cyclists for first place.
Pendletons nervous mum, Pauline, took up her usual place in the loo during her daughters race, where she said shes often met up with Hoys mother.
Pendleton has the sprint to come, but plans to retire after the Olympics.
I didnt sleep last night and I asked, Why do I put myself through this? she said. Im going to be riding my bike to keep fit and thats it. I wont ever do a Steve Redgrave where he jumped back in the boat.
Pendleton, 31, said shell be glad to stop agonizing.
Im going to give up crying after the Olympics, she said. Ive decided Im going to give it up forever.
But first she will have her amazing exit in the breathtaking venue. The external sides are covered in western red cedar to coincide with the Siberian pine track. The double-curving roof features 10 miles of steel cable. It was designed to be the worlds fastest track and one of the Games most sustainable venues lightweight and energy-efficient like a bicycle.
The last time the Olympic Games were held in London, in 1948, cycling was contested at Herne Hill, an outdoor track that survives as the only intact venue from the Austerity Olympics. It was used by Wiggins when he was a youngster, but has fallen into disrepair. Hes leading a fundraising drive to refurbish it.
Great Britain will soon have six velodromes in which to groom its promising cyclists. The country is undergoing a cycling boom competitive, recreational and commuting. Sky TV hosts a series of Sky Rides which bar traffic from city centers and open them to cyclists. A Go Ride program in the schools encourages talent.
The likes of Sir Chris, Brilliant Brad and Queen Victoria should keep the wheels turning.