Ollie Wood and Mark Stewart took a stunning last-gasp silver medal in the men’s Madison at the World Championships, hopping from third to second in the final sprint.
The British pair rode calmly throughout the 200-lap race, following moves and chipping away to earn points. With one lap to go, Stewart then swung Wood into the bunch, who thundered round the final bend to take second over the line, tallying 35 points.
Victory went to the Dutch duo of Yoeri Havik and Jan Willem van Schip, who took 37 points. While New Zealand’s Aaron Gate and Campbell Stewart collected 34 for third.
“We were two points off [gold],” said Stewart, who was filling in for the injured Ethan Hayter. “It’s kind of contrasting feelings. Gutted to not get the win – how amazing would that have been to deliver that? But at the same time, to be here, in Glasgow, to be on the podium, yeah [it’s] fantastic.”
Earlier in the week, the Brits had spent time between track sessions perfecting their Madison changes. When the race came, the duo’s strategy was to “bide their time”, and pounce at the end, Stewart explained.
“That was kind of the game plan,” the 27-year-old said. “Some of these guys we’re riding against have come off the Tour de France and they’re super strong, so we knew to be in with a shout, we’d have to be clever.”
Still, so dangerous were the pair, that whenever they flirted with the idea of a lap gain, their attempts were quickly quashed. “We had a little dig before the Dutch,” Wood said, “and we looked back, and people were just towing the bunch around. They’re trying to obviously win themselves, but they’re chasing us.
“It’s the nature of the race. You can’t predict what’s going to happen, and if you could, you’d win everything. I think we’re just happy to come away with a silver.”
Throughout the race, team coach Ben Greenwood stood at the top of the banking in the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, communicating via an earpiece with women’s endurance coach Cam Meyer in the track centre. Sporadically, Greenwood shouted down encouragement to the duo.
What was he yelling? “He was just saying, ‘You look great! You look fantastic!’,” Stewart joked. “There was more chat between them than us. They were just there for moral support.”
Earlier in the evening, Neah Evans surrendered her points race title to Belgium’s Lotte Kopecky, placing fifth in the event. The 33-year-old, who won the Madison on Monday night with Elinor Barker, put up a valiant fight, but ultimately couldn’t follow the other favourites.
“[The crowd] were cheering me on, and I was like, ‘I’m trying, honestly, I’m giving my all,’” the Brit said afterwards. “I’d have loved to be able to get a better result for them, but I gave it a good go.”
Kopecky, who claimed the Elimination race on Sunday, looked effortless during the event, at times appearing as if she was breathing through her nose. “She’s so strong, and she’s been absolutely flying on the road,” said Evans. “It was always going to be tough to try and beat her.”
There were more gold medals for Great Britain in para-cycling, as Fran Brown won the C1 Scratch race, adding to her previous success in the individual pursuit. The para-squad also won the mixed team sprint, with Neil Fachie and Matt Rotherham joining forces with Lizzie Jordan and Amy Cole to triumph in the final.
The tandem title meant Fachie and Rotherham went home with three new rainbow jerseys, as the para-track events came to a conclusion.