San Diego cyclist Jennifer Valente. Courtesy Team USA

 San Diegan Jennifer Valente helped the United States record the third-fastest time in qualifying for the women’s team pursuit Monday as track cycling events began at the Tokyo Olympics.

The U.S. team was timed in 4 minutes, 10.118 seconds for the 4 kilometers at the Izu Velodrome in Shizuoka, Japan, 110 miles south of Tokyo. The time is determined by the third cyclist of the four-member team to cross the finish line.

The U. S. will race Great Britain at 11:44 p.m. Monday Pacific Daylight Time, with the winner advancing to race for the gold medal at 1:26 a.m. Tuesday. Coverage will be streamed live at track-womens-team-pursuit-mens-team-sprint-finals-more.

Great Britain posted the second-fastest qualifying time, 4:09.22. It returns three members of the team that won the gold medal in the event in 2016, including four-time gold medalist Laura Kenny, the most successful female track cyclist in Olympic history.

The U.S. team of Valente, Chloe Dygert, Emma White and Lily Williams won the team pursuit at the 2020 UCI Track Cycling World Championships, the fourth time Valente was part of a world championship team.

Valente and Dygert were members of the U.S. team that won the silver medal at the 2016 Olympics.

Germany set a world record in qualifying, 4:07.307, breaking the previous record of 4:10.236 set by Great Britain in the 2016 Olympics.

In team pursuit, the two opposing teams start on either side of the track. The winner is the team that catches the other team or records the fastest time. A team is caught when the opposing team comes within one meter of the other.

The 26-year-old Valente grew up in San Diego riding mountain and BMX bicycles around her neighborhood with her brothers. Valente’s father Thomas raced bikes in the 1980s, and she grew up listening to race stories. She participated in many sports as a youth including soccer, baseball and swimming.

Encouraged by her father’s love of riding bicycles, when she was 14 she attended youth classes at the San Diego Velodrome and was drawn in by the uniquely contained environment in which she could push herself.

–City News Service

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