First Day: the Netherlands make their mark - Gold for Germany in Womens Teamsprint
Berlin. The first of five days of action at the 2020 UCI Track Cycling World Championships presented by Tissot at the velodrome in Berlin saw gold medals go to the Netherlands and Germany, and two world records each for Denmark and the Netherlands.
First blood in the championships went to the Netherlands with a truly powerful display from multiple UCI World Champion Kirsten Wild in the Scratch Race. The highly experienced track and road cyclist won her third Scratch Race rainbow jersey with a masterful ride to better a top-class field.
After a cagey 30 laps, attacks started with Alexandra Manly of Australia, who pushed with six laps remaining, Britain’s 2016 Scratch Race UCI World Champion Laura Kenny – still recovering from a broken shoulder sustained at the UCI Track World Cup at Milton, Canada taking it on with three to go, then Wild hitting the front two laps out… and staying there! The 37-year-old Dutch rider held position to reclaim the title she lost to Elinor Barker in Poland last year.
“I’m really happy with this win,” said Wild. “I’m super happy that I could hold them off in the sprint and take the win. My strength is the sprint so it was perfect for me that it was fast and there were no attacks. The timing of the sprint is always hectic but I was lucky that I could hold them off and win.” The USA’s Jennifer Valente took silver and a delighted 20-year-old Maria Martins of Portugal – proving that she is one to watch – earned the bronze.
In the women's team sprint, Russia and China had qualified first and second fastest, yet despite both winning their first round races, they did so in slower times than Germany and Australia, and faced each other in the bronze final, where China showed late power to take the medal. In the gold final, hosts Germany – Emma Hinze, Pauline Sophie Grabosch and Lea Sophie Friedrich, who each raced throughout the rounds – upset the favourites, but delighted the home crowd, negating Australia's early lead to win by 0.2sec in 32.163sec.
In the first round of the men's team sprint the Netherlands set a huge world record time of 41.275, taking almost 0.6sec off the former mark made by Germany at altitude in 2013. Even switching out their squad members, the men in orange looked unbeatable. In the bronze final the Australian trio was organised and strong to beat France.
The Netherlands led Great Britain all the way in the gold final, unleashing the mighty Jeffrey Hoogland for the final lap to win in a time of 41.225sec,improving on the world mark they had set barely an hour earlier. At 42.4sec Britain were quicker than anyone else at the Championships, but even so were clearly second best.
Although the team sprint finals made an exciting end to the first day, they certainly weren’t the only races to produce drama. Two more world records were set, both by the Danish men’s team pursuit quartet, as they produced the standout results in qualifying. The Danes first set a new world record by a margin of 1.5 seconds in qualifying – a staggering time made even more incredible given there is no opposition to chase, just the discipline, pacing and power from within. The riders’ reactions to the first record show the effort: Then in the first round, they did it again, beating Italy and their own world record by a further 0.3 seconds, setting themselves up for the final.
The action in Berlin continues Thursday and goes right through to Sunday 1st March. Look forward to more racing on the second day, including more rainbow jerseys to be presented in the men’s and women’s team pursuit as well as the men’s keirin and men’s Scratch Race.