Olympic and world champion, Katie Archibald got into cycling after winning handicap races on a Highland Games grass track. She writes a column for Cycling Weekly each week
I just watched Elinor Barker and Eleanor Dickinson win Madison gold at the European track championships in Berlin. I expect they’re exhausted but we’ve done our fair share of sweating up here in the stands as well.
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Fact of the day: Berlin just hosted only the seventh European track cycling championships – the event began in 2010. More trivia: our Elinor/Eleanor team are only the second ever women’s Madison champs, as the event only opened for women last season.
We also received the announcement that the Madison would be returning as an Olympic event for men (it wasn’t in the 2012 or 2016 programmes) and added as a new event for women.
It’s a pretty seismic piece of news. Why? Well, firstly, I’m a professional cyclist and also an amateur writer – of course I’m going to use hyperbole wherever possible. Secondly, the impact this Madison introduction has had on gender parity in national squads already appears to be evident in the results from this European champs.
It’s total speculation on my part, but I feel there’s been a marked step up and expansion of several national women’s teams. For the Dutch this was seen by road professionals Amy Pieters and Annemiek van Vleuten returning to/debuting on the track, respectively.
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For the Danish it was the return of Trine Schmidt (2008 Olympian), who won two European titles this champs, and for the Swiss it was mountain biker Andrea Waldis coming fourth in the omnium.
These three nations have all achieved substantial depth in their men’s team but, in past years, tended to use just one rider for their women’s squad. Amalie Dideriksen has been the only female Dane travelling to World Cups for the last few years; Kirsten Wild the only Dutch female endurance rider; and Switzerland’s women have been totally absent at World Cup level.
The wind has well and truly changed now and squads are expanding. The challenge for Great Britain will be to keep up with the gusts…