The Great Britain Cycling Team ended their first track event of the Olympic year with confidence, topping the medal table with 14 total medals; six gold, six silver and two bronze to make their biggest medal haul ever at this event.
Josie Knight won her first individual international title in the women’s individual pursuit, with Anna Morris taking bronze int he same event and Emma Finucane rounded off her championships with a third medal, silver in the women’s keirin.
Women’s individual pursuit
Josie Knight took her first individual international title in sensational style, beating current champion Franziska Brausse by three thousandths of a second, while fellow Brit Anna Morris joined her on the podium taking the bronze medal.
Knight qualified second fastest with a time of 3:23.028 to put her in the running for the gold medal, while Morris qualified just half a second slower putting her in the bronze medal ride off. Morris led her final comfortably from the off, winning to take the bronze by an impressive 4.541 seconds.
Knight meanwhile took a reserved approach to her gold medal final which saw opponent Brausse leading by just over a second with five laps to go. Known for her late acceleration, Knight showed incredible control to slowly power back the gap in the closing kilometre , delivering a showstopping win in 3:22,816, just 0.003 seconds ahead of Brausse.
After winning the title, Knight said: “I'm over the moon to be honest. It’s my first gold medal of the championships but it's also my first international championship title as an individual and that's really, really special. I've always been part of the team pursuit and although being part of the team is fantastic, it’s really special to win on my own for once.”
Emma Finucane stormed to her third medal of the competition, winning the silver medal in the women’s keirin, while teammate Sophie Capewell finished eighth overall.
Finucane entered the women’s keirin with confidence, having already claimed two European medals at this championship so far, breezing through the first round in second place. Another strong performance in the second round saw the 21-year-old cross the line third to secure her place in the final. In the final, Finucane took her time to bridge the gap from her fifth place pick, before manoeuvring over the top with two laps to go and pushing the power to get past Mathilde Gros. Holding off a final threat from Dutch Hetty van de Wouw, Finucane rode to a fantastic silver medal.
Capewell positioned herself well in the opening round, but couldn’t make it round Lea Sophie Friedrich and Hetty van de Wouw, leaving her to race again in the repechage, where she qualified first. After a strong all-round competition, another final was not to be for Capewell who just missed out with a fifth place finish, taking eighth place in the event overall.
On representing Great Britain at the European Championships, Finucane said: “Honestly the vibes in our pen have been unreal throughout the whole competition, like everyone whether they were winning or losing, everyone's cheering for each other and got each other’s back.
“I feel like the momentum has really carried on throughout the week. This is a record breaking Europeans and I can really feel that and it’s exciting because we’re in 2024 and the Olympics are approaching so I feel like this is really good momentum for GB but yeah, we’ll just carry on throughout the year and see what happens but it’s been really special that I can play a part in that.”
Hamish Turnbull gave a strong performance to take fourth place in the keirin, while teammate Jack Carlin finished seventh.
Turnbull got through via repechage to the second round of the event, riding a controlled race and keeping alert to his rivals. He managed to hold off an attack from Dutchman Jeffrey Hoogland to head into the final in second place. A fraught final saw Turnbull hold his own against attacks from the Czech and French riders, before Harrie Lavreysen launched his sprint with two laps to go, taking the race with ease. Turnbull hung on but couldn’t quite keep up the speed to make it onto the podium and took fourth place.
Carlin got through the first round in a second place photo finish before being knocked out of the second round in fourth place. Carlin rode a dominant race in the 7-12 final, leading from the front and holding off his competitors to finish seventh place overall.
Men’s points race
An incredibly active points race saw Will Perrett deliver a determined race, positioning himself well with tactical moves, but was unable to consistently collect sprint points and finished in fifth place.
Three riders attacked from the gun to take an early lap and set the tone for the race. Perrett took his time to move into the rhythm of the race and with 120 laps to go just as the pace settled, Perrett took his opportunity to push the sprints and take some points, securing 11 points across three sprints to move up to eighth.
Managing to follow a move which included race leader Niklas Larsen, Perrett took a lap which gained him 20 more points and up to third place. Perrett continued to mark his main opponents for the podium, following moves from Oscar Nilsson-Julien and Sebastian Vedri Mora to stay in contention as attacks came thick and fast.
The second half of the race saw the bunch continue to attack, with the podium places still closely contended. While Perrett remained active, chasing down attacks and forming breakaways, he was unable to gain those all-important sprint points that would get him back in podium position.
With three laps to go, in a final attempt at a medal, Perrett managed to get off the front with two fellow riders, putting himself in position to collect the final double sprint points. In a gutsy sprint, he took four final points to put him up to 36 points overall, but it wasn’t enough to make it on to the podium and finished in fifth place.
It was disappointment in the women’s Madison for world champions Elinor Barker and Neah Evans as, after winning the first sprint, Barker came down in a crash. After receiving medical attention, the Welsh rider was advised not to continue in the race and Great Britain left the race after 12 laps.