International track cycling returned to the United Kingdom in style on Friday evening, as the third round of the UCI Track Champions League saw Katie Archibald maintain pole position in the women’s endurance league going into tonight’s final round.
Inside a packed Lee Valley VeloPark all eyes were on Archibald and British teammates Rhys Britton, Sophie Capewell, Ed Clancy, Josh Charlton and William Tidball, who received raucous cheers from the home crowd.
Having finished second in the scratch race earlier in the evening, a pulsating contest in the women’s elimination ended with an all-important victory for Archibald. After a number of close calls, Archibald expertly navigated the latter stages of the race, beating Kirsten Wild in the final elimination lap to lift the velodrome’s roof off and secure her fourth race victory of the series.
Her lead at the top of the standings now stretches to 35 points and she will look to seal the deal at tonight’s sold out final round.
Speaking afterwards, she said:
“I really knew before we got on the start line, if I was going to do anything I would have to go as soon as possible, make it as long as possible.
“I think you need the fire in your belly for an elimination race because it goes wrong if you go in relaxed.
“It’s good but I felt a lot of pressure coming home. I’ve had a lot of really important experiences here, both early on in my career and some big successes. It means a lot to be here and I’m glad to deliver.”
Elsewhere, in the men’s endurance league Sebastian Mora of Spain maintained his spot at the top of the men’s endurance rankings. The men’s scratch and elimination saw four homegrown talents competing, with Britton and Tidball making the top 10 in both races with impressive displays, but it was Claudio Imhof (Switzerland) and Gavin Hoover (USA) who would steal plaudits for their dominant performances in the men’s scratch and elimination respectively. Britton now sits seventh overall in the men's endurance standings.
In the sprint league, the women’s keirin saw leader Emma Hinze (Germany) crash out in her heat. Her compatriot Lea Friedrich was able to take advantage, after a clinical performance saw her storm to victory in the keirin final, and the pair met again in the sprint final, where Hinze this time came out on on top.
Despite not making the final, Sophie Capewell gained eight points from finishing third in her keirin heat, taking her total to 12 in the competition.
In the men’s sprint, Harrie Lavreysen (Netherlands) and Stefan Boetticher (Germany) continued their battle for pole position, with Lavreysen winning the sprint race, while Boetticher took first in the keirin for the second time in the competition. Lavreysen’s lead at the top now stands at 14.
Coverage of tonight’s final round gets underway at 18:45 on Eurosport and GCN. For full results and standings, click here.