Sir Chris Hoy celebrated his 35th birthday by winning his 21st World Championship medal as Britain's sprint team powered to bronze in Apeldoorn.
After qualifying third, Hoy, Jason Kenny and Matt Crampton eased past Australia in 44.235 seconds, with France winning gold from Germany.
The GB pursuit team of Sam Harrison, Steven Burke, Andy Tennant and Peter Kennaugh also won bronze.
The quartet outclassed New Zealand in a time of four minutes 2.781 seconds.
Defending champions Australia beat Russia to take gold in 3:57.832 in the final of the team pursuit after a commanding performance.
The British Olympic champions were already without Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas, who both returned to road racing with Team Sky after taking gold in the team pursuit at the track World Cup in Manchester in February.
The pursuit team had to change line up late on
And having qualified third, GB were forced into making a change to their line up for the bronze medal clash with 18-year-old Harrison making his senior debut in place of Ed Clancy who was suffering from a virus.
Harrison said: "I was pretty excited to get the nod, I was sort-of hoping after Ed said he was unwell that I could step in and gain some experience.
"I think the boys are pretty disappointed but I'm really happy with a bronze and to get a chance with the team."
Harrison, who later retired from the scratch race won by Hong Kong rider Ho Ting Kwok, could yet deputise for Clancy in the omnium on Friday and Saturday, with a decision on the Yorkshireman's fitness set to be taken on Thursday.
GB's young cyclists bask in bronze success
Australia had clocked the fastest time in qualifying to stake their claim for a first gold of the five-day championships.
And the classy quartet of Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, Luke Durbridge and Michael Hepburn overpowered the Russian team in the final, proving they could be a threat to the British team in London.
Head coach of GB Cycling Shane Sutton told BBC Radio 5 live Extra: "We were beaten by a better team in the men's team pursuit and there's no excuses for that.
"But the team is progressing. Teams have stepped up their game [since Beijing] and we've got 14 months to do that too.
"I'm confident in the team of coaches we've got, and the home crowd will raise the performance of the team. It's a good young squad, I honestly believe that the team is going to move forward."
One of the most tightly contested medals at the Olympics in 2012 will potentially be the team sprint with France, Germany and Britain boasting strong line-ups.
And it was France's three-man team of Gregory Bauge, Michael D'Almeida and Kevin Sireau which finished the explosive three-lap race in 43.867 seconds to beat Germany into second as they crossed the line in 44.483.
After taking third place, Hoy was eager to focus on the positives with over 15 months to go until the Olympics.
"We came in here as the third-ranked team and probably got the result we deserved," said Hoy.
"We used to be more than half a second down on the French and now we're closing the gap.
"We'd prefer gold or silver but we're heading in the right direction.
"The medal table may not reflect exactly what we're looking for but the boys did well, personally I was pleased with my ride and you can't ask for more than that.
"Think back to pre-Beijing, we didn't win a world title until the Olympics."
Meanwhile, GB's Becky James finished seventh in the 500m time trial, one of nine events taking place at the world championships which will not feature in the Olympics in 2012.
The Welsh rider clocked a time of 35.035 seconds - with eventual winner Olga Panarina of Belarus taking the rainbow jersey in 33.896 - Sandie Clair of France was second and Miriam Welte of Germany took the bronze.
James said: "The track's running quite slow, you can feel it - you're really having to push.
"But it's been a good day so far. I just wanted to get a good hit out to see where my form's at.
"I'm happy I did it and I've done a personal best, so that's great. I wasn't expecting that with the track running slow."
To add to a successful night for Belarusian cycling, Tatsiana Sharakova (30 points) won the women's points race, another non-Olympic event, while Jarmila Machacova of Czech Republic (20 points) took silver and Giorgia Bronzini of Italy (14 points) collected bronze.
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