It was a triumphant weekend for the trio of Scottish riders representing the Great Britain Cycling Team this weekend at the UEC European Track Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria as they brought home a haul of medals.
Racing commenced in style on day one of the championships with the new look women's team sprint. Former Johnston Jets rider Lusia Steele formed part of the silver medal winning trio for Great Britain, qualifying second fastest in 48.646. The team went on to cross the line in 48.531 in the finals, just behind Russia who took gold in a time of 46.852.
In the women’s team pursuit, Scottish talents Neah Evans and Katie Archibald were part of the team who qualified fastest in a time of 4:13.923 and went on to catch the Spanish team in the first round putting them comfortably through to the gold medal final. Despite the pressure of being defending champions, the team took a convincing win in a brilliant time of 4:10.437. This was the fastest time the women’s team pursuit have posted since the Rio 2016 Olympics, setting them up perfectly for the season ahead and towards Tokyo
Day three of the championships brought another gold for Neah Evans who showed exceptional form in the individual pursuit. Speaking of her second victory in as many days, Neah said: “When it sinks in, it’ll feel very special – I’m delighted! It’s been a busy week; it’s been a bit bizarre as effectively we’ve had a summer of no racing and then to come to the European track champs where it’s just been non-stop. It’s been great to get back racing, and to get some really good results is just amazing.”
The penultimate day of racing brought another win for the European team pursuit champion Katie Archibald. Katie added another gold medal to her collection by winning the women’s points race. She stated her intent from the start, winning the first two sprints, collecting points in the following two, and then winning the fifth sprint which put her in a comfortable lead at the halfway point. With 30 laps to go, Katie made her attack, along with Italy’s Silvia Zanardi, Poland’s Karolina Karasiewicz and Portugal’s Maria Martins, with the foursome taking a lap with 24 still to go. Silvia Zanardi ate into Katie’s lead on the penultimate sprint, narrowing it down to ten points, meaning gold for Katie was not a foregone conclusion. However, she stayed attentive and showed her strength by winning the final sprint, taking the European points race title by 18 points.
Speaking after the race Katie said: “I get drawn into the sprints and it puts me in danger, so against a different field I would have been kicking myself as I was really in danger – the right attack could have done me in, so I’m glad I kept my head and didn’t let the wrong move go and I was there to contend at the finish.”
The Great Britain Cycling Team finished the competition at the top of the medal table with six gold, three silver and two bronze medals.