British pair Elinor Barker and Neah Evans claimed victory in a chaotic and crash-strewn Madison at the World Championships on Monday night.
The duo, who led narrowly for most of the 120-lap event, almost saw their advantage snatched away, when a crash on the penultimate lap meant the race was halted, just after Barker had roared off the front.
Following the neutralisation, the duo composed themselves and changed their tactic to ride defensively. They won with a total of 28 points, beating Australia’s Georgia Baker and Alex Manly by three.
“My legs are screaming right now,” Barker told the press, including Cycling Weekly, inside Glasgow’s Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome. “I was expecting to have maybe four more pedal revs, and swing Neah in. We were leading, we were most likely going to win the last sprint, and it was all done.”
While the fallen riders received treatment by the trackside, Barker and Evans rode round to their coach, Cameron Meyer, for tactical advice. “Cam and Neah did a really good job of calming me down,” Barker said. “I just wanted to be like, ‘Ugh, I can’t believe it. This is so unfair.’ And they both said, ‘No, this is fine.’
“We just needed to stay safe, stay at the front, wait for someone to take it on, and we’d be absolutely fine.”
When the gun sounded inside the velodrome, marking the end of the race, the track centre was plunged into silence. Both Barker and Evans glanced repeatedly at the scoreboard, and the moment the final tallies came in, the crowd broke into rapturous cheering.
“I was like, ‘Don’t celebrate until it comes up’, because you never really know if your maths is right,” Barker laughed. “Then it was just relief when we saw it on the board. It felt so good.”
The race was frenzied from start to finish, as Madisons typically are. As the pair swapped through turns in the bunch, slipping between rivals, their handling skills came to the fore. At one point, Evans skipped over the bikes of two crashed riders, and held herself upright to earn a ripple of applause.
“It’s a bit surreal,” the Scot said after the race, wearing her second career rainbow jersey. “Racing World Championships are special, but to do it in front of a home crowd, on the velodrome I learned to ride on, [with] so many people up in the stands just cheering you on, it’s incredible.”
French pair Victoire Berteau and Clara Copponi took bronze, while the defending champions, Lotte Kopecky and Shari Bossuyt (Belgium), were absent from the event, as the latter is suspended following an anti-doping positive.
Vernon the eliminator
Elsewhere on day five of the track events, Ethan Vernon earned himself a second world title, this time in the Elimination race. The 22-year-old was involved in a crash with eight riders remaining in the event, but kept calm and out-sprinted them all to be the last man standing.
“[The crash] probably helped me, to be honest,” he said post-race. “I ended up going down, landed on my side, a few cuts. Sometimes when you have a crash, you get a bit more adrenaline than you had before. It gave me time to reassess.”
The Brit, who rides on the road for Soudal Quick-Step, came third in the event at last year’s Championships, and admitted he had done no preparation. “I jumped on my [bunch] bike for the first time since that race last year yesterday,” Vernon said.
“Obviously it’s not an Olympic event, but it’s always nice to get the jersey, and the watch looks quite nice this year,” he added with a laugh.
Neil Fachie and his pilot Matt Rotherham claimed their second title of the Championships in the tandem sprint, beating the Germans 2-0 in the final. The former, who has now collected 17 rainbow jerseys, afterwards described the race as “unforgettable”.
Local hero Jack Carlin took third in the men’s sprint, which was won by the defending champion Harrie Lavreysen (Netherlands). It was a bronze medal, too, for Great Britain’s Sam Ruddock, after a valiant display in the men’s C1 Omnium.