Suspense on track
One more for the road! And that’s just what British Tandem teams did in the Men’s Sprint race finals, Sunday, the last day at the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships held in Los Angeles.
James Ball and pilot Matthew Rottherham provided stiff competition for teammate Neil Fachie and pilot Craig Maclean – a duo who earned gold in the Sprint at the 2016 Worlds.
Winners of the first race of the final, Fachie and Maclean quickly became aware that Ball and Rottherham weren’t quite finished yet when they won their second race.
“Going up against your teammates in the final definitely adds a lot of pressure!” exclaimed Ball.
The final was certainly set to be a thrill, and Team G.B. tandems did not disappoint. Pedal for pedal, either of the British duos had the capacity to claim the gold medal, but in the penultimate lap, Ball and Rottherham took off in a sprint that surprised Fachie and Maclean – and they could not respond fast enough to counter the effort. It was a winning strategy, as Ball and Rottherham kept up the pressure and crossed the line first. “We said before that two laps to go would be our moment to put the foot down and go; we just took advantage and went for the win.”
Malaysians Muhammad Afiq Afify and Muhammad Rasol Kahirul Adha grabbed the bronze medal.
The Women’s final also featured a showdown between two British duos. Already gold medallists in the Pursuit and Time Trial events, Sophie Thornhill and Corrine Hall (pilot) ended a perfect weekend with a win against Alison Patrick and Helen Scott.
After having won the first round, Thornhill and Hall were simply too strong for their competition in the second race. “It’s only been seven weeks that we’re together on the bike, but she’s an incredible pilot. It‘s good for me to have a strong pilot up front,” commented Thornhill.
Even if they’re a new duo, there is certainly cycling chemistry between the two. “Sophie is very good, she’s responsive to every move I make, so it works very well,” analyzed Corrine Hall.
The duel for the bronze medal took place in three parts, as Australians Jessica Gallagher and Stefanie Preiksa first took a won against Britons Aileen McGlynn and Louise Haston. However, that would be the only race that Gallagher – reigning World Champion - would win. McGlynn and Haston won the two races that followed, enabling Team G.B. to score their second medal sweep of the podium of this World Championships.
A date with two gold medals for Berenyi
Joseph Berenyi concluded his World Championships Sunday by adding two medals to his luggage. Winning the C1, C2, and C3 Scratch race, he also was a part of the Team U.S.A. squad that won the Team Sprint event.
Clocking the best time during qualifications, the Americans continued their winning ways in the final against Team Spain. The trio - Joseph Berenyi, Jason Kimball, and Christopher Murphy – only had to complete the race in a time of 50.654 seconds to confirm their presence at the top of the podium.
“The Team Sprint was my priority today. After that win, I just stayed focussed as much as possible on the Scratch event,” commented Berenyi.
All bets were off in the Scratch race however, as cyclists were bunched together until the very end. Berenyi finally attacked by going high just a little before the last curve, out-riding Spain’s Eduardo Santas Asensio and Australia’s David Nicholas at the line.
“I wanted to race smart. I was disappointed in my performance in the Scratch race last year, but I worked hard and tonight it paid off,” analyzed Berenyi.
Gildea defends title in Scratch race
Surprises in the C4-C5 Scratch race were plentiful! While Lauro Cesar Chaman was seemingly on his way to the top of the podium after a hotly contested race, in the end, the Brazilian was shuffled to third place, likely because of contact with another para-cyclist during the race.
All this meant that Britain’s Jonathan Gildea was able to successfully defend his World title, while the silver medal went to Australia’s Alistair Donohue.
The 2017 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships have now come to a close, but para-cyclists are eagerly awaiting road races. The first of three stages of the UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup will be held May 11-14 in Italy.