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DUBAI (Reuters) - The Islamic State militant group released a video purporting to show the beheading of U.S. hostage Steven Sotloff, the SITE monitoring service reported on Tuesday. A masked figure in the video also issued a threat against a British hostage, a man the group named as David Haines, and warned governments to back off "this evil alliance of America against the Islamic State", the monitoring service said. (Reporting by William Maclean, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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Australia avenge Olympic defeat, Hammer wins fifth title

Sarah Hammer of the U.S. rides to win the gold medal during the women's individual pursuit final at the 2013 UCI Track Cycling World Champio
Sarah Hammer of the U.S. rides to win the gold medal during the women's individual pursuit final at the 2013 UCI Track Cycling World Champio

MINSK (Reuters) - Australia got a measure of revenge for losing the Olympic gold to Britain by beating their arch-rivals in the men's team pursuit final at the world track cycling championships on Wednesday.

The Australian quartet of Glenn O'Shea, Alexander Edmondson, Michael Hepburn and Alexander Morgan completed the 4,000 meters at the wooden velodrome in the Belarus capital in three minutes 56.751 seconds to clinch the gold medal.

However, the result was well short of the world record of 3:51.659, set by the British at the London Games last August.

Britain only had two riders, Steven Burke and Ed Clancy, returning from London, with newcomers Samuel Harrison and Andrew Tennant replacing Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh. The new quartet could only manage the time of 4:00.967 in the final.

Denmark beat Spain in the consolation final to win the bronze in 3:59.821.

Earlier, American Sarah Hammer won her fifth world title in the women's individual pursuit over 3,000 meters while France's Francois Pervis clinched his first in another non-Olympic event - the men's one kilometer time trial.


Hammer crushed Australia's Amy Cure in the final by more than eight seconds, coming home in three minutes 32.050 seconds, with another Australian Annette Edmondson taking the bronze.

Hammer, who also won in 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011, did not compete at last year's championships in Melbourne. The 29-year-old, who lost the Olympic gold medal in the omnium in London by a single point, said she did not plan a big celebration.

"I'm just going to call my parents at home, that's about it. I'll have a day's rest tomorrow, then get ready for more races on Friday, Saturday and Sunday," she said.

Pervis won the time trial, which was dropped from the Olympic program after the 2004 Games in Athens, in one minute 00.221 seconds, with Simon Van Velthooven of New Zealand finishing second, 0.648 seconds behind, and German Joachim Eilers taking the bronze.

"I was stressed out, staying at the hotel and waiting for the championships to start. But finally, I'm a world champion," said 28-year-old Pervis, who was not selected for the French Olympic team in London.

"I hope to win another medal in keirin on Friday. I was second in 2009 but I'll try to go for the gold this time."

Germany won the last gold medal on offer on the opening night of the five-day championships, taking the women's team sprint title by edging out China in the final by just three hundredths of a second. Britain finished third ahead of Australia.

(Reporting by Ruslan Batenkov; additional reporting by Julien Pretot in Paris; writing by Gennady Fyodorov; Editing by Alison Wildey)