Dame Sarah Storey added three world titles to her collection, while tandem sprint duos Sophie Thornhill and Helen Scott and Neil Fachie and Matt Rotherham were also victorious on day three of the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Milton, Canada, today (Saturday).
In the WC5 individual pursuit, Storey defeated team-mate Crystal Lane-Wright in the final, after the British duo had recorded the two fastest qualifying times.
Storey clocked 3:43.007 and Lane-Wright 3:49.776 to set up the all-British gold medal ride, and it was Storey who claimed gold, catching her team-mate with six laps remaining.
From there, the two contested the scratch race, which was the final event of the four-race omnium, which Storey led following her victories in the pursuit and yesterday’s flying 200m. In the scratch, Storey took a lap on the field midway through the 40-lap event, while Lane-Wright attacked late, ensuring that she comfortably won the race for silver and secured another British one-two.
The victory represented the 37th world title of Storey’s career, and rubber-stamped the 38th – the omnium. Incredibly, in what is her 20th career world championships across swimming and cycling, today’s three golds also took Storey’s overall collection of world championship medals to 60.
“When I realised earlier in the week that this was my 20th world championships, I couldn’t believe it, then when we talked about the medals it was a bit ‘wow’. It feels amazing – to win three in one day is just a bit of a dream to be honest. I never thought it would happen.
“I’m really pleased with my form and the work I’ve been doing in the chamber and on the road – I’m delighted.”
Also striking gold were tandem pairings Thornhill and Scott, and Fachie and Rotherham, who both won their kilo contests.
The women’s event was up first, with Thornhill and Scott going last of 16 as defending champions. After Lora Fachie and Corrine Hall clocked a 1:10.683 (which would result in a seventh place) Dutch duo Larissa Klaassen and Imke Brommer set a leading time of 1:06.984 with the penultimate ride.
However, Paralympic and world champions Thornhill and Scott once again showed the form which has seen them dominate this event in recent years, putting in a stunning performance to stop the clock at 1:04.953 – just three tenths of a second outside their own world record.
Thornhill, for whom this is a twelfth world title, said:
“I think I’m going to cry! We’re really chuffed – just over the moon to defend it and to break our Paralympic year world championships curse as well!”
“We knew we were going well in training, but you have to put it together. We’re chuffed to get under the 1:05 mark again – obviously we know that we were so close to the world record and we wanted that, but it’s quite a difficult track to ride, so we can’t complain at all!”
There was a British one-two in the equivalent men’s event for the fourth year in a row, as Fachie and Rotherham regained the title they lost last year, ensuring that defending champion James Ball and his pilot Lewis Stewart had to settle for silver.
Fachie and Rotherham were the first of the British pairings to set their time, stopping the clock at an impressive 59.724. Ball and Stewart went next, recording a time of 1:00.323 to secure silver.
“We wanted this back. We thought it was our title this year, and we’re relieved to come here and do the business. Particularly in a Paralympic year – to be world champions is a good sign.”
Jon Gildea claimed bronze in the MC5 pursuit, a fitting end to a day during which he’d recorded a personal best time despite a mechanical in his qualifying ride.
Gildea posted 4:30.651; the third fastest time in a competition in which the top three were separated by little over a second. He then backed that performance up in the bronze medal final, clocking 4:31.519 to defeat Ukraine’s Yehor Dementyev.
“I’m really happy with that. It would have been fantastic to win, but I was about a second off, so I can take that. To be honest, this is the happiest I’ve ever been with a medal.”
Will Bjergfelt’s 4:40.076 was good enough for seventh.
Another of the omnium competitions to end today was the MC2, where Britain’s Matthew Robertson went into the final scratch race in 4th position. Robertson rode a composed race, but Spanish rider Maurice Far Eckhard Tio forced the pace at the front, claiming the victory ahead of eventual omnium silver medallist Tristen Chernove, Darren Hicks and new omnium world champion, Alexandre Leaute.
Robertson was 13th, giving him an overall 6th place finish in the omnium.
In the MC4 pursuit, kilo world champion Jody Cundy registered a time of 5:00.213 in his effort in the longer event – a time which placed him out of the medal rides in eighth as he prepares for tomorrow’s team sprint event.
Sam Ruddock did not finish the MC1 scratch race, the final event of a debut cycling world championships which saw him finish fourth in his kilo event yesterday.
With Great Britain having so far accumulated 15 medals (seven gold, six silver and two bronze), the championships conclude tomorrow, when the sprint tandems are back to contest the match sprints, and Jaco van Gass returns to the track for the MC3 scratch race.