A fast and furious first day of action was capped with a pair of Great Britain medals as the UCI Track Nations Cup returned to Glasgow for a bumper weekend of action.
As they have done so often over the last few years, Katie Archibald and Neah Evans were central to the British team’s success, the Scottish pair producing three strong rides across the day, the final of those securing splendid silver medals in the Women’s Team Pursuit.
Taking on World Champion’s Germany in the final, it would have taken a very special ride to take gold, the type of ride that in truth, the team’s preparations wouldn’t have allowed, with injuries and geography meaning things weren’t quite as polished as we’ve come to expect.
None-the-less, they put up a fantastic fight, which the Glasgow crowd fully appreciated, the Scottish duo in particular pulling mammoth turns on the front to try and guide them to victory. In the end though, they had to settle for silver, which they could be proud of standing on the podium at the end of the night.
Talking after collecting the latest medals to be added to their collections, Archibald said:
“We’re pretty happy – if we’d had been told two weeks ago this is what we’d have walked away with, we’d have been pretty happy with it.”
“We managed our expectations. But then when you’re in the gold-silver final you obviously want more, especially against Germany. Naturally we’re a bit disappointed, but there’s a lot more to come.”
Looking to the year ahead, Archibald concluded:
“There’s a lot to manage this year, with Birmingham and all the rest of it – experiencing that fine tune up for a track race, as for most of us the next big one we’ll do will be those Commonwealth Games, so that’s quite important.”
Earlier in the day the GB quartet took on Italy in a nail-biting contest, with the outcome hanging in the balance all the way to the line. GB dominated through halfway, but after a big second turn from Evans saw her peel off, the remaining trio had to go the rest of the distance without her, with Archibald towing them through the final km. As they came to line, it was anyone’s guess, GB edging back in front to win by 0.09 of a second.
Neah is back in action once again tomorrow in the Elimination Race, whilst Katie goes in the Omnium on Saturday – the pair will join forces for the Madison on the final afternoon of action on Sunday.
The sprinters also joined the party during the evening session, with Ali Fielding and Jack Carlin showing their ability in the Men’s Team Sprint, making up two thirds of the GB 1 trio. Fielding led off, powering round the first lap of the track before double Olympic medallist Carlin took the front for the second lap of his home velodrome, their teammate Joe Truman rounding things off on the final lap.
Advancing safely through the opening round, the trio went a tenth quicker in Round 1, but were bettered by a decorated Dutch squad, so would not get the chance to ride for a medal, despite being fourth quickest once again.
A young Scottish trio of Lusia Steele, Iona Moir and Lauren Bell made their debuts at this level in the Women’s Team Sprint, making up GB 2, fresh from bagging the Scottish Commonwealth Games qualifying standard in Newport last month. Not put off by the occasion nor the atmosphere, the young guns acquitted themselves admirably, a strong opening ride giving them the chance to do it all over again.
Bell blasted out of the blocks to record a fast opening lap, before Moir, the youngster of the team, produced a strong second lap, Steele, the most experienced of the trio finishing the job in fine style. Ultimately their efforts would be rewarded with a superb eighth place finish.
Summing up their performance, Steele said:
“Overall, as a team, we can be quite happy with what we did. We came in not really knowing where we stood, and the profile of our riders isn’t quite right, but as a team we wanted to try and match what we did at Nationals and we went nearly half a second quicker, so whilst there is still a lot to work on, we can be proud of what we did.”
On competing at this level for the first time, Moir added:
“It was a really cool experience and I’m happy with how we rode as a team!”
Of her lead off leg, Bell concluded:
“I’m happy with it – it’s only a tenth off my PB – I can be pleased with that. Hopefully we can get to the Commonwealth Games – we’ve got a little while ‘til then to learn and hopefully we can get to go there and smash it.”
Full results from day one can be found here
Tickets for the rest of the weekend are still on sale here