| | |
Great Britain collected two more gold medals in an absorbing evening at the third day of the track world championships in Belarus.
Olympic champion Jason Kenny won the keirin title after Simon Yates had collected a rainbow jersey in the points race in his debut in the competition.
It places Great Britain at the top of the medal table with six medals, three of which are gold.
After being reinstated into the major final following a disqualification to France’s Francois Pervis in round two, Kenny seized the opportunity and latched onto the wheel of Maximillian Levy before rounding the German for victory.
"It's an unbelievable feeling,” Kenny said. “With the day being the way it was, having to come back through the reps and then getting a bit lucky in the semi with the relegation and just genuinely not feeling that confident.
"It was a dream ride. I couldn't have written it any better if I'd tried. It's good to be in that position and take my opportunity.
"The first round was pretty non-committal. It was fairly pathetic really. [I had] a little bit of good fortune [in the final], getting on Levy's wheel. He just committed everything.
"He was obviously feeling really confident and fair play to him - he was going really quick. Luckily I just had a little bit in the tank to roll him when it mattered, at the very death.”
The nonattendance of Olympic and 2012 world keirin champion Sir Chris Hoy, who is taking a season away from the track, had left Kenny and Matt Crampton as Great Britain’s representatives in the discipline.
Drawn together, both were forced into the repechage after failing to progress in round one. There they faced each other again with Kenny booking his place in round two at the expense of Crampton.
The 24-year-old then finished fourth in his second round heat but was presented with another chance and he duly took it, his first world title since 2011 when he was awarded his jersey after the relegation of Frenchman Gregory Bauge in the sprint.
Yates’ triumph was equally as enthralling, the 20-year-old launching a blistering attack on the final lap to gain a vital two points which handed him the title.
He had earlier gained a lap on the field before a five-point maximum in the penultimate sprint put him just one point behind leader Eloy Teruel Rovira of Spain.
A devastating surge at the death saw Yates go around the outside of the field to become Britain’s first points race world champion since his coach Chris Newton.
“I can’t believe it really,” British Cycling Academy rider Yates said after the 160-lap 40km race.
“I tried to save it early on, it’s a long race, there’s no point spending all your money in the first half, I saved my energy. I was pretty nervous before the start, I’d like to say I rode it quite clever. Things went my way.
“It fell perfectly to how I wanted to ride it. It was a bit touch and go in the last few laps, luckily I had the gas in the end.”
It concluded Britain’s most successful day thus far in the Minsk Arena. Becky James had earlier continued her outstanding form by booking her place in Saturday’s sprint semi-finals.
The 21-year-old from Abergavenny qualified fastest in a new personal best of 10.957 before defeating Lisandra Guerra Rodriguez of Cuba and Australian Kaarle McColluch on her way to the last four.
James’ team sprint partner Victoria Williamson exited at the 1/16 finals stage, but not before the 19-year-old had set a new personal best in qualifying.
“It’s been a really good day,” sprinter James said. “With sprint I take it step-by-step because they can be such long days and so many races so I was really happy with my qualifying, especially qualifying first in 10.9, I’m really happy with that.
“Once that’s done you’ve just got to put it behind you and then focus on the racing because you could be the fastest qualifier but you might not race as well."
There was also a first senior world track championships outing for British Cycling Academy rider Jon Dibben, beginning his omnium campaign in a field which included world champion Glenn O’Shea and Olympic gold medallist Lasse Norman Hansen.
The 19-year-old recorded 11th in both the flying lap and points race before ending ninth in the elimination race, leaving him in 11th overall.
After winning team pursuit gold on Thursday, Dani King placed sixth in the women’s scratch race.