COLNE cyclist Steven Burke yesterday helped Great Britain to the fifth fastest team pursuit time in history and then insisted: “We’re still the nation to beat.”

Great Britain streaked away from New Zealand to win yesterday’s final event of the World Cup series at a canter at the Manchester Velodrome, and their time of three minutes 55.438 seconds over the 4,000m distance was the fifth fastest ever recorded.

Burke, who won a bronze medal in the individual pursuit at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, joined forces with Ed Clancy and returning duo Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas to claim victory.

Earlier in the day they had posted a time of three minutes 57.4 seconds in qualifying.

Burke and Great Britain were beaten by Australia in last year’s World Championships in Denmark but this year’s event takes place in the Dutch city of Apeldoorn between March 23 and 27 and the 22-year-old believes they go into it as firm favourites after yesterday’s display.

Great Britain are currently the world record holders and reigning Olympic champions, although both of those feats came before Burke joined the team.

Burke was hoping for a world record yesterday but believes the signs are still promising ahead of the forthcoming World Championships and next year’s Olympics in London.

“I was a little bit disappointed today but as a nation we’re still the team to beat,” he said after last night’s victory.

“We might not be the world champions but today we showed we’ve still got it.

“Having Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas back is brilliant for morale.

“When they come back they strengthen the team so much.”