Laura Kenny made a triumphant return to the HSBC UK | National Track Championships with a fantastic scratch race victory today.
Kenny, who was making her first appearance at the championships since 2015, edged out fellow Olympic champions Elinor Barker (silver) and Katie Archibald (bronze) on the line after the bunch had come back together following a brave attempt to take victory by youngster Jenny Holl.
After the race, Kenny said:
“When Jenny went, I was thinking “seven laps is a long way still to go”, but nobody chased, so with two laps to go she had a big gap. I didn’t want to be the one to take it on because I don’t think I can sprint full gas for two laps, so when Katie came over, I was getting on that wheel - to be able to get a lead-out from one of the world’s best was perfect for me!
“Sometimes people think because you’ve won at world championships and Olympics, Nationals can’t mean too much, but it does. Every race means something, and to wear this jersey means you’ve not only beaten the other girls from your country, you’ve beaten the world’s best.”
Joe Truman was in equally impressive form in the sprint, easing through the gears as he made his way to a final against Jason Kenny, with Truman winning 2-0. Hamish Turnbull took bronze over Alex Spratt, by the same scoreline.
In the men’s points race, Rhys Britton took gold after he took a lap alongside Matt Walls, Kyle Gordon and Jacob Tipper midway through the race. He finished on 35 points, with Walls on 31 and Gordon a further five points back.
Matt Rotherham followed up his sensational performances on the tandem on day 1 by winning a thrilling kilo contest. The competition came alive with the final three riders, as Dan Bigham’s time of 1:01.934 being narrowly bettered by the 1:01.841 recorded by his team-mate Jonny Wale in the penultimate ride.
However, the quickest was saved until last, as Rotherham thrilled the capacity crowd with a fantastic 1:01.559 to take gold.
Afterwards, he said:
“I’m really pleased. It was 2011 when I last won the elite kilo, so it’s a big gap, but I’m really pleased to get my name back on my trophy. It was a pretty decent time as well, a good PB for me, so I’m pretty happy.”
Jess Crampton claimed her third national title in three years, retaining her keirin title in the evening’s final event. Crampton held on to her advantage to edge Ellie Coster into second, with Joanna Smith taking bronze.
The mixed tandem individual pursuit saw an intriguing battle between the male and female world champions. With all four riders sporting their rainbow bands, Steve Bate and Adam Duggleby crossed the line in 4:10.407, which was their fastest time since the Rio Paralympic Games and enough to beat the factored time of Lora Fachie and Corrine Hall. Laura Cluxton, piloted by Laura Clode, took bronze.
The C1-5 individual pursuit title was retained by Paralympic champion Louis Rolfe, who – after factoring – narrowly edged out Fin Graham. Matthew Robertson claimed bronze to complete the podium.
Team Breeze also successfully defended their women’s team pursuit crown. After recording a time of 4:32.139 in the qualifying round, the quartet of Jess Roberts, Jenny Holl, Becky Raybould and Anna Docherty then caught Team Velotec (Molly Patch, Anna Morris, Sophie Lankford and Jennifer Holden) just before the 3km mark.
The bronze medal was claimed by Liv CC – Halo Cycles – Ella Barnwell, Eluned King, Elena Smith and Amelia Sharpe – who defeated RST/Cycle Division RT by just over a second.
The racing concludes tomorrow, when the men’s scratch, keirin and team pursuit and women’s, time trial team sprint and points jerseys will be awarded, with the latter seeing Kenny, Archibald and Barker all compete for gold again.
The action will be streamed in its entirety via britishcycling.org.uk.