Classy performances from Katie Archibald and Ollie Wood saw them crowned European champions on day three of the UEC Track Elite European Championships in Grenchen, Switzerland, with victories in the omnium and scratch race respectively.
Further adding to Great Britain’s medal tally, Dan Bigham picked up his second silver medal of the championships in the individual pursuit, while Sophie Capewell overcame world champion Mathilde Gros en route to sprint bronze.
Archibald gave Grenchen a glimpse of what was to come in last night’s team pursuit final, spearheading the Great Britain quartet to victory, and she picked up where she left off in the scratch race opener.
Riding confidently throughout, the Scot broke free of the bunch with Maike van der Duin of The Netherlands and Poland’s Daria Pikulik, and prevailed to take maximum points.
The tempo race followed later in the afternoon session, and another masterclass saw her win six sprints and take a lap on her way to victory with 26 points, with France’s Clara Copponi her nearest challenger in second with 23.
Returning for the evening session, there was no let up in Archibald’s dominance, who remained in control throughout the elimination race. With just three riders left in the race world champion Lotte Kopecky was eliminated, and such was Archibald’s power that Pikulik didn’t even muster a challenge in the final sprint, securing maximum points once more.
This meant Archibald started the all-important points race with a 16-point lead over Pikulik, and – not content with merely defending her lead – she capped off a wonderful day with another lap gain and victory in the points race, securing overall victory by 31 points.
Speaking after her victory, Archibald said:
“I was pretty nervous. The scratch race didn’t settle me like it normally does, and especially if you get a win in the scratch race you can come off and feel confident, but I thought oh god, I think I’ve gone really hard and I don’t know if I can keep going! I came round in the second half so it turns out that everybody went out really hard as well.
“I’ve got five really big targets between now and the Games, which is one way to look at it, but the other way is that it’s a European title, and that’s something I’m always happy with.”
Men’s scratch race
After securing silver in yesterday’s team pursuit, Ollie Wood was back on track for a scintillating men’s scratch race.
In a race full of attacks it looked like Portugal’s Iuri Leitao and Austria’s Tim Wafler would be left to battle for gold after building a gap on the bunch. However a blistering attack from Wood on the bell saw him blaze clear, punching the air as he crossed the line to secure victory and a first European title.
Afterwards, he said:
“It all kicked off as soon as the gun went, the Portuguese attacked, a bit like track league style, so it made for a really hard race. The gas never really went off after that.
“Maybe three laps to go I knew that the front riders were coming back, and I was sort of judging whether I could bring them back myself, but fortunately I didn’t have to.
“It’s nice to get this, after winning the worlds last year. It’s another special skinsuit I get, which is nice.”
Men’s individual pursuit
Dan Bigham also entered the individual pursuit in fine form after yesterday’s silver medal, and delivered not only a personal best but also a track record in qualifying – his time of 4:02.775 the sixth fastest of all time.
This set up a final against Italy’s Jonathan Milan, part of Italy’s victorious team pursuit team 24 hours earlier. In a topsy-turvy final Milan started strongly before Bigham opened a healthy gap, and he found himself a second up on Milan heading into the final four laps.
However Milan rallied well in the final stages and as Bigham tired he overturned the deficit to take the victory by more than two seconds.
Charlie Tanfield qualified in fifth for the event and narrowly missed out on a ride for bronze, with a time of 4:10.317.
Sophie Capewell returned to the track for her sprint semi-final after seeing off teammate Emma Finucane in the previous round yesterday.
Coming up against Germany’s formidable Lea Sophie Friedrich, Capewell was narrowly beaten in the first leg, before coming down heavily in a crash on the penultimate lap of the second leg as she attempted to come around Friedrich.
Capewell was soon back on her bike for the re-run of the second leg, but wasn’t able to overcome Friedrich, setting up a ride for bronze against world champion Mathilde Gros. There she started brilliantly, blazing past the French rider to take the first leg, and an equally-impressive ride in the second saw her hold off an advancing Gros to take bronze.
Team sprint silver medallists Jack Carlin and Hamish Turnbull qualified sixth and 11th fastest in men’s sprint qualifying, securing their passage into the 1/16 finals. Both riders progressed, with Turnbull riding twice due to his opponent puncturing on the first attempt.
This set up another all British affair, with the pair facing each other in the 1/8 final, where Carlin got the better of his teammate and secured a quarter final match against Poland’s Mateusz Rudyk.
That was to be as far as he would go however, with Rudyk riding impressively to take the best of three match in straight legs.
The Great Britain Cycling Team will look to further add to their medal haul on tomorrow’s penultimate day of competition, with medals up for grabs in the women’s 500m time-trial, women’s individual pursuit, men’s omnium and women’s points race.