Dame Sarah Storey continued her astonishing unbeaten run in the C5 pursuit at the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships on Saturday, beating Poland’s Anna Harkowska to claim an eleventh para-cycling track world title.
The eleven-time Paralympic gold medallist was head and shoulders above the opposition in the morning’s qualification session, riding a 3:39.553 – 15 seconds faster than Harkowska.
With such a deficit, the final was a formality but notwithstanding, Storey's execution was clinical, going out hard and catching the Polish rider in just 1250 metres.
"This morning's qualifier was quite grippy really but then it's been grippy for a lot of people,” said Storey.
“Times have been a little bit slower that what you would have expected and it was hard work.
"But I found my fire back for the 3K - I started a bit too quick which is something we didn't expect.
"So this afternoon was about trying something a little bit different - going out and trying to hold a schedule for a certain number of laps and then when I could see my opponent then really ramping it up."
The 37-year-old has won every C5 pursuit competition since the first para-cycling world championships in Aigle, Switzerland in 2006, which Storey contested just a year after switching from swimming to cycling.
The Cheshire-born rider’s win lifted Great Britain’s medal haul to six – five golds and one silver, on the penultimate day of competition in Apeldoorn’s Omnisport Arena.
Earlier Britain’s Lora Turnham and Lauryn Therin missed out on a medal by the narrowest of margins in the B pursuit.
The British pair qualified fourth in the morning session in a time of 3:42.112 and were pitted against Ireland’s Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal, who clocked 3:40.770 for the three-kilometre effort.
Both teams stepped up in the final giving the Apeldoorn crowd the best race of the competition so far.
Great Britain went out hard and were up by 1.4 seconds with a kilometre to go. But in the last 1000 metres the gap tumbled and at the line, the Irish pair edged the race by just a tenth of a second.
"Gutted to finish fourth but I'm happy with our final ride,” Turnham said. “To go three seconds quicker shows a massive improvement and we learned from our earlier performance today and put a plan in action and it worked so there's a lot of positives to be taken from it."
Pilot Therin added, “A pursuit is never an easy thing to do - you always suffer in a pursuit and it's just about how long you can hold off before you absolutely just put yourself into the ground.
"We gave it everything and it was close - we at least put on something for everyone in the stands!
"Everyone here was on their edge of their seats watching that race it was the closest out of any of the races today."
Saturday also saw Great Britain’s Jaco van Gass and the tandem pairing of Steve Bate and Adam Duggleby back on track following their world championship debuts on the opening day of the four-day competition.
Former soldier van Gass finished seventh in the C4 pursuit competition, in a time of 4:56.422, around a second shy of his qualifying time in Newport.
Van Gass was seriously wounded in Afghanistan, losing his left arm, sustaining a collapsed left lung, shrapnel wounds to his left side, punctured internal organs, blast wounds to upper thigh, a broken tibia and a fractured knee.
Riding in the fourth of eight heats, van Gass’ time put him into second place but with a host of C4 pursuit talent still to come, the South-African-born athlete’s time wasn’t enough to claim a medal ride.
Slovakia’s Josef Metelka went on to retain the world title against Romania’s Carol-Eduard Novak.
Speaking after his ride the 28-year-old had mixed emotions.
"I’m quite disappointed in myself,” said van Gass. "I went out a bit too hard – my legs felt really good but before I knew it I was way up on pace and then I paid for it at the end.
"I think the moment just got to me a bit. I really wanted to do well - I really wanted to make everyone proud.”
Steve Bate and Adam Duggleby were sixth in the B pursuit, posting a new personal best of 4:27.299.
Riding in heat five, their time put them in pole position but strong rides from remaining seeded riders gradually pushed them out of medal contention.
"I felt like I couldn't have done any more,” said Bate, who has the degenerative eye condition retinitis pigmentosa.
"I guess it would have been nice to go a bit quicker and get a ride-off but sixth for a first ride - pretty happy with that really."
The championships conclude on Sunday with British medal prospects in the men’s and women’s B sprint, C1-C5 team sprint plus the men’s and women’s C4-5 scratch races.