Laura Trott powered to her second gold medal of the week at the UEC European Track Cycling Championships on Friday evening with a stunning final lap in the scratch race in Grenchen.
The 23-year-old, fresh from her victory in the team pursuit on Thursday, timed her charge to perfection, making up half a lap in the closing stages to secure the Great Britain Cycling Team’s third gold medal in Switzerland.
Although she left it late, Trott said she was never too concerned.
“I just didn’t panic I guess. That little break went away and everyone was looking at me to work and I thought I didn’t need to work; it isn’t my race to lose.
“The field started to chase and it worked out perfectly, I ended up having a three lap lead-out, so I was pretty pleased to be honest.”
Trott is now a nine-time European champion, but has her eyes on reaching double digits this weekend with the omnium kicking off tomorrow morning. Shortly before making her way to the podium, she admitted that the scratch gold was a bonus for her.
“We were using it as a bit of a tester for tomorrow really, because obviously the scratch race is the first race of the omnium. As it was a scratch race and just 40 laps, we thought ‘why not, let’s do it’.”
Valuable Olympic qualification points were secured in the men and women’s sprint as Jason Kenny, Lewis Oliva and Katy Marchant all claimed top eight finishes.
Kenny and Oliva went head-to-head twice in the sprint, first in the 1/16 finals and then in the 5-8th place minor final.
Oliva bravely fought back twice in the repechages to make it through to the quarter-finals before losing out to Poland’s Rafal Sarnecki.
Jason Kenny overcame a repechage himself in the 1/8 finals to book a quarter-final against Jeffrey Hoogland of the Netherlands but came up a rider in imperious form, the Dutchman getting past the Olympic champion on his way to European gold.
In the minor final, Kenny secured fifth place, with Oliva ending his busy day in eighth.
In the women’s sprint, Katy Marchant’s good form continued as she successfully progressed to the quarter-finals in strong form, before being beaten by eventual fourth place finisher Virginie Cueff, who had also overcome Marchant’s teammate Jess Varnish in the earlier round.
In the battle for 5-8th place, the presence of two Spanish riders caused Marchant an issue as she found herself boxed in, but she recovered to take 7th – continuing her impressive form this season. Varnish had to settle for a 10th place finish.
Great Britain Cycling Team sprint coach Justin Grace said it was an encouraging performance.
“We came here knowing what work we’ve put in and just wanted to see where we are against the rest of Europe.
“Today has been a really good learning for us, we’ve had some really fantastic racing from some of the guys. We’ve got two in the top eight in the men and one in the top eight in the women, so it’s been a pretty good day for us to see where we’re at.”
Jon Dibben ended day one of the omnium in ninth place, boosted by top five finishes in the scratch race and individual pursuit.
Head coach Iain Dyer thinks Dibben has a decent chance of a good result. He said: “We’re in the hunt.
“Jon slipped down to ninth with the elimination race, but it’s still pretty tightly packed and with the way that the new omnium format works, he’s still in the hunt, so we hope for a good day tomorrow.”
The day’s other event saw British champion Ollie Wood take to the boards for the 160 lap points race. The 19-year-old picked up a second place finish in the second intermediate sprint, but didn’t register any more points.
The event was eventually won by Polish rider Wojciech Pszczolarski with the young British rider finishing in a solid 15th overall.