Laura Trott couldn’t deliver the gold medal the British team desperately needed on the final day of racing at the track cycling world championships in Paris today.
It meant Great Britain left the track champs without a gold medal for the first time since 2001, when they won a silver and a bronze.
Trott, the Olympic champion, went in to the second day of omnium competition locked in a close battle with Annette Edmondson (Aus), Kirsten Wild (Ned) and Jolien D’Hoore (Bel), as Britain’s only realistic gold medal chance and live coverage scheduled on the BBC.
The 500m tt, usually Trott’s strongest event, didn’t go to plan as she finished fifth to go in to the final points race trailing Edmondson by 14 points. Normally that wouldn’t be an insurmountable lead, but there was no touching the flying Aussie. Three rounds of team pursuit had taken more out of Trott than it had Edmondson who, along with her compatriots, was in stunning form all week.
“I am really happy with silver,” Trott said afterwards. “After the scratch race I’d never have imagined I was even going to get a medal.” Others had higher hopes especially as reigning champion Sarah Hammer (USA) had faded due to illness.
“I tend to try to put [the pressure] to the back of my mind. I’ll try my hardest no matter what, whether I was winning or whether I was last. I would’ve tried my best. I just happened to get silver on the day.” Trott said.
French cycling fans had been in good voice all week in their new velodrome, but on the final day of racing in Paris they had more to cheer about than usual.
The pair of Bryan Coquard and Morgan Knieskly spent the first half of the Madison chasing the race to rapturous cheers after Owain Doull and Mark Christian took an early lap on the field. Coquard and Kniesky had the highest points total but needed to get the lap back in order to win.
In the final third of the race, as the bunch split to pieces, the British pair capitulated as Doull, the latest British rider to succumb to illness this week, came to a virtual stand still.
As the scoreboard finally updated to show France in the lead the crowd found a few more decibels. The pair’s earlier efforts could have come back to bite them at this point, but with Italy just a couple of points behind and the crowd in good voice they had no choice of letting up.
It came down to the final sprint but France held on to take their fourth gold medal of the championships.
As soon as the track had cleared, Gregory Bauge rolled up for his deciding match sprint. A multiple world champion, Bauge hasn’t been at his best since the Olympics when he was so dumfounded by the margin of his loss to Jason Kenny that he started asking the questions in the press conference.
Bauge doesn’t ride the keirin and before Wednesday evening the French hadn’t won the team sprint since 2009. Had he lost his mojo? He’d beaten a tired looking François Pervis in two thrilling semi-final match sprints before caming up against an impressive looking Denis Dmitriev of Russia in the final.
Bauge though has regained his form and is back on top. There was a surprising lack of competition from the Germans and Australians but the Kiwis, and Bauge’s compatriot’s made up for it. With Quentin Lafargue and Pervis in the running, the French sprinters are back on top. The question will be whether or not they will still be there in Brazil.
They won all four sprint gold medals in Paris and have won more sprint world medals than any other nation this century. They do however have a habit of getting it hopelessly wrong at the Olympic Games. Their fortunes in Rio will be closely watched.
Anna Meares saw to it that the Australian domination of women’s track cycling was unquestionable when she won the keirin, her eleventh world title. Meares faltered in the sprint, going out in the 1/8 finals, but after a days recovery came back strong in the keirin.
RESULTS TO COME…