Great Britain’s women’s team pursuit squad became world champions for the first time since 2014 on Saturday night, beating New Zealand in the final in Glasgow.
The quartet – composed of Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker, Josie Knight and Anna Morris – received a guard of honour from the GB staff once they stepped off their bikes, having clocked a 4-08.771, winning by over four and a half seconds.
The victory proved a poignant one for Archibald, who paid tribute to her late partner Rab Wardell with a title-winning ride in her home velodrome.
“She’s unbelievable,” said Barker, who also rode in the team with Archibald last time GB won gold at the World Championships. “It’s really hard to summarise the year she’s had, and how she feels about it, and how we feel about it. But just the fact she’s here is just insane. I don’t really know how she does it, to be honest.”
The team’s display inside the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome was commanding. Having recorded the best time in both qualifying and the first round, the quartet fell behind marginally to the Kiwis at the start of their run, before Archibald took the reins at the midway point, and powered them into the lead.
The final pull for victory fell to Knight, who crossed the line with the Kiwis in sight.
“With a lap to go, I looked up and I could just see them,” Knight said. “I thought, ‘Even if I blow up completely here, as long as I can still see them, we’ve got this.’”
For the 26-year-old, the win marked a career-first world title – a feat that Morris and Meg Barker, who rode in the first round, also enjoyed.
“I’ve ridden a lot of world finals and come second, the biggest one being Tokyo [Olympics],” Knight said. “I’ve been wanting to win something big for a while, and this is my third team pursuit in the World Championships.
“It’s gone bronze, silver last year, and honestly, I was just so devastated on the podium last year, and I really didn’t want that to happen again.”
France beat the defending champions Italy to the bronze medal.
Danes end Italian dominance
In the men’s team pursuit, Denmark mirrored the British women in winning all three of their runs, and the gold medal.
The win ended a two-year streak of Italian dominance in the event, with Filippo Ganna’s quartet taking second, over two seconds down on the winning 3-45.161.
For Danish rider Rasmus Lund, the victory brought sweet revenge. “It’s good to be back,” he told Cycling Weekly. “I actually got a memory on Facebook today that it was two years ago that we lost in the final at the Olympics, exactly to the date. So it’s a bit of a revenge score. Now, it’s finally finished and we’re on top. It’s a really good feeling.”
Lund, who missed his team’s qualifier, has been struggling with two herniated discs in his spine, but was still able to pull a monstrous three-lap turn through the finish line. “I didn’t hear the bell for the last lap,” he smiled. “To be honest, I feel pretty cool. I think it’s an accomplishment that I didn’t really think was possible until today.”
The 25-year-old was joined by Niklas Larsen, Carl-Frederik Bévort and Lasse Leth on the podium to receive their rainbow jerseys. New Zealand came third.
The British men’s quartet – the defending champions – crashed out of qualifying, and did not compete in the finals.
More para gold for GB
After winning four world titles on Friday night, GB’s para-cyclists kept the party going at the start of Saturday’s evening session, taking two rainbow jerseys in the first two events, and a third later on.
The opener went to Sam Ruddock, who successfully defended his title in the C1 kilometre time trial. When it was clear his 1-12.210 time wouldn’t be beaten, the 33-year-old jumped for joy, collapsed to his knees and thumped the floor.
“It was a feeling of relief and elation all at the same time,” said Ruddock, who has cerebral palsy. “This is an event we didn’t expect to do this well in, because it was the secondary focus next to the individual pursuit. So to get it, and to see the Chinese drop off more than I expected, was a real shock.”
When Ruddock won his first rainbow jersey in the event last year, the Chinese riders were absent from the Championships. “To still be on top, with the best in the world now being here, bodes well for [the Paralympic Games] next year,” he grinned.
GB’s second world title of the evening was claimed by Blaine Hunt who, like Ruddock, doubled his rainbow jersey count with victory in the C5 kilo. Hunt’s victory in Glasgow was resounding, beating the USA’s Christopher Murphy by almost a second and a half in the four-lap event.
In the penultimate event of the night, Jaco van Gass won the C5 Scratch race, adding to his previous title in the kilo. Van Gass pipped fellow Brit Fin Graham to the line, after the pair had gained a lap on the field.