Dame Sarah Storey was among the winners while Jaco van Gass won his third and fourth gold medals of the weekend on the final day of competition at the Manchester Para-cycling International.
Storey, who amassed four world titles to add to her collection in 2019, was in sparkling form, stopping the clock in WC5 pursuit qualifying at 3:40.942, just over ten seconds quicker than nearest rival and team-mate Crystal Lane-Wright (3:50.945).
The two met again in the final, with Storey catching 2018 world champion Lane-Wright just over halfway through the 3km.
Afterwards, Storey said:
“I was really pleased with today. I’ve had a horrible week – I’ve hit training really hard and I didn’t think I was coming out the other side! So I dragged myself here not expecting a great deal, so to have a really even-paced 3:40 was brilliant, and this afternoon was just about putting more pressure through the pedals ready to put some more endurance in before worlds in a couple of months.”
Van Gass, already a MC3 pursuit and MC1-3 kilo winner this weekend, was victorious in the team sprint and MC1-3 scratch race today.
The final of the team sprint was an all British affair, after the squad’s experimental A and B teams recorded the two fastest times in qualifying.
The B team triumphed in the final, as Kadeena Cox, Jody Cundy and van Gass (who replaced Fin Graham in a change to the trio which recorded 51.597 in qualifying) clocked 49.641 to beat the team of Louis Rolfe, Jon-Allan Butterworth and Blaine Hunt (49.978) in the final.
Earlier, with Robertson in place of Rolfe, that trio had qualified in 51.622.
A few hours later, van Gass was triumphant again, as he led home a British one-two-three in the MC1-3 scratch. Van Gass gained two laps on the field as he again underlined his growing versatility on the track. Ben Watson also gained a lap to secure silver, while Graham won the battle for bronze.
The sprint tandems returned to the track today, with Sophie Thornhill and Helen Scott adding the sprint title to the kilo which they won on Friday, and Neil Fachie and Lewis Stuart turning the tables on kilo winners James Ball and Matt Rotherham after they were forced to settle for silver behind their team-mates two evenings ago.
In the qualifying round – the flying 200m – the British tandems dominated, with Ball and Rotherham going fastest in the men’s event (9.807) followed by Fachie and Stewart (10.051), while Thornhill and Scott set the quickest time on the women’s side, a rapid 10.713.
That earned them a bye through to the semi-final, which they won, while both British male duos advanced comfortably through the rounds to set up a final against each other.
In their final, Thornhill and Scott looked untouchable as they wrapped up a 2-0 victory over Belgian world pursuit silver medallists Griet Hoet and Anneleen Monsieur.
Ball and Rotherham took the first contest in the men’s final, but Fachie and Stewart were dominant from that point, overturning the deficit to take gold 2-1.
“The sprint was always going to be a fun day for us, because the kilo is the big one as the Paralympic event. In the sprint you can unleash a little bit, and although those guys were probably favourite to win the final, we knew we could push them hard. Winning meant a lot – it’s safe to say we enjoyed that!”
Katie Toft was also a gold medal winner today, as she clocked 4:38.175 to beat Daphne Schrager to victory in the WC1 pursuit. Toft was also in action in the WC1-3 scratch race, where she finished sixth.
In the final event of the weekend, the MC4-5 scratch, Great Britain’s Jon Gildea was edged out by France’s Dorian Foulon, while Will Bjergfelt claimed bronze. The three were the class act in the field throughout the 15km race, but it was the Frenchman who took victory by a matter of centimetres over Gildea after a closely-fought sprint.
Megan Giglia won WC3 pursuit bronze, riding a 4:16.270 in qualifying, then recording 4:12.859 to defeat the Netherlands’ Aniek van den Aarsen in the bronze medal race.
Today’s action wraps up a successful weekend for the Great Britain Cycling Team. Yesterday, both endurance tandems (Lora Fachie and Corrine Hall, and Steve Bate and Adam Duggleby) both recorded their fastest pursuit times since the Rio Paralympics, while there were personal bests for Rolfe and Robertson (who also set a new national record) in the MC2 pursuit, and day 1 saw world-class tandem kilo times recorded by Thornhill and Scott (1:05.646), Ball and Rotherham (59.495) and Fachie and Stewart (1:00.759).
The team now looks ahead to the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, which take place in Milton, Canada, from January 30 – February 2.