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Great Britain’s sprint tandems untouchable on final day in Apeldoorn

Great Britain’s sprint tandems untouchable on final day in Apeldoorn

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Great Britain’s B sprint tandems stole the show on the final day of competition at the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Apeldoorn on Sunday.

Reigning world champions Neil Fachie and Pete Mitchell were unbeaten from the opening 200-metre time trial to the gold medal finals against Spain, showing tactical maturity and raw power that was impossible to match.

It was the same story for 2014 world champion Sophie Thornhill, who, partnered by Helen Scott, dominated the women’s B sprint event. Like Fachie and Mitchell, the British women didn’t lose a heat throughout the contest, beating Australia’s Brandie O’Connor and Brianna Hargrave 2-0 to take gold.

Crystal Lane added C4-5 scratch bronze to her silver from the 500-metre time trial on Thursday in a frenetic race, her effort helping Great Britain come away with nine medals; seven gold, one silver and one bronze.

Thornhill and Scott opened proceedings in the morning with an 11.127-second 200-metre TT, setting up an easier draw for the quarter finals. The Great Britain pair despatched Belgians Meskens and Monsieur without drama to face Japan in the semis.

Yurie Kanama and Mai Tanaka had no answer to Thornhill and Scott’s speed and another 2-0 victory lined up a meeting with Australia’s Brandie O’Connor and Brianna Hargrave in the match for gold.

The Australian duo provided stiffer resistance but in both heats, Great Britain opened up with a lap and a half to go to cross the line unchallenged.

"It's never easy," said Thornhill. "You can never take anything for granted - these races are always hard.

"You can make is easy for yourself being tactically aware and Scotty was great on the front of the tandem today.

"I trusted her completely and thankfully we won."

The contest was marred by a heavy crash in the quarter finals that saw the withdrawal of home favourites Marissa Klaassen and Haliegh Dolman.

"It's been a bit of a strange day of racing," said Scott. "Unfortunately the Netherlands team crashed out and I think they would have been really close competitors for us today.

"But we really enjoyed racing again today and yeah - my second world title and I'm chuffed to bits."

Fachie and Mitchell came close to a sub 10 second 200 metre time trial qualifier, three tenths of a second faster than nearest challengers Spain.

After dispatching Greece 2-0 in the quarter finals, Britain were set to face Germany’s Kruse and Nimke in the semi-finals but illness curtailed the German threat, giving Fachie and Mitchell a bye to the final, where they met second fastest qualifiers Porto Lareo and Villanueva Trinidad.

The first heat saw Spain try to set a high pace early on but at a lap and a half to go, a savage acceleration from the British pair left the Spaniards with no reply.

Spain tried every tactic in the book in the second heat in an attempt to ruffle the feathers of the British pair but once the sprint opened up, once again, Fachie and Mitchell were untouchable.

"We got a bye in the semi which was nice but I'd rather race to be honest,” said Fachie, who has the degenerative eye condition retinitis pigmentosa.

"I’m just delighted to get another one."

Pilot Mitchell added, "It went according to plan - the guys we raced were experienced so any mistakes we made would have been capitalised upon.

"Fortunately we rode solid races which allowed us to make the most of our good qualifying."

The final British medal came for Crystal Lane in a blistering women’s C4-5 scratch race that saw drama from beginning to end. Greta Neimanas of the USA made an early claim on the gold medal with a solo attack, thwarting Dame Sarah Storey’s ambition to take a hat-trick of golds in Apeldoorn.

Silver looked up for grabs until Anna Harkowska of Poland launched her own solo attack and suddenly in was bronze or bust for the British pair. At the line, Lane was pipped by Argentina’s Mariela Analia Delgado but the Argentinian rider was relegated by the commissaires and the bronze was Lane’s.

"The medal was unexpected - I just wanted to get around really!” said Lane.

"I went in with no expectations and I didn't really have a game-plan either - suppose it was a bit of beginner's luck and some natural instinct from the road.

"I guess to get the bronze it must have come off alright!"

Louis Rolfe, Jody Cundy and Jaco van Gass narrowly missed a medal ride in the team sprint, less than a second behind the USA team of Schuble, Berenyi and Murphy.

Cundy and van Gass also rode in the final event of the four day championships, the C4-5 scratch but a lap gain by the trio of Michael Gallagher, Alistair Donohue and 2014 champion Soelito Gohr put paid to further medal hopes for Cundy, who took gold in the kilometre time trial on Thursday.

Results

Women's B sprint qualification
Women's B sprint quarter finals
Women's B sprint semi finals
Women's B sprint finals
Men's B sprint qualification
Men's B sprint quarter finals
Men's B sprint semi finals
Men's B sprint finals
Team sprint qualification
Women's C4-5 scratch race
Men's C4-5 scratch race