Pfeiffer Georgi won Team GB’s only medal during Saturday’s evening session of the European Track championships in Munich.
The 21 year-old rode an intelligent, confident race, positioning herself well throughout, moving further forward as the bunch shrank, and only looked threatened when head to head with Lotte Kopecky in the final two laps.
Then, though she managed to position herself on Belgian’s wheel, Kopecky was too strong for the Brit, out-sprinting her to take the title.
The event was marred by a huge crash, which took down a number riders. Racing was suspended for 40 minutes while world champion Letizia Paternoster was treated at track side, then evacuated to hospital. It has since been reported she was conscious and has suffered only minor injuries.
The championships are being run on a 200m track as opposed to the more standard 250m loop, and while there is no evidence the tighter circuit had anything to do with the Elimination race crash, it has changed teams’ tactical approach.
Built specifically for the championships, the velodrome is a temporary structure built in a Munich exhibition hall, but with the Sprint races remaining at three laps, the distance is considerably shorter. This has encouraged competitors to go long or to simply hold the inside the line, forcing their opponents to ride the long way round.
This tactic worked well for Brit Hamish Turnbull. The underdog going into his Sprint quarter final against Mateusz Rudyk, he forced the Polish rider wide and into the same mistake twice, winning their clash with just two of the allowed three races.
Jack Carlin also qualified for the semi in two races. He was the fastest qualifier for Saturday’s quarter finals and duly got through, beating Hungarian Sándor Szalontay, meaning Team GB are now guaranteed a medal, as the two British riders will each face a Frenchman in Sunday’s semis, the final coming later that evening.
The women’s 500m time trial was the evening’s opening event with five time sprint world champion, German Emma Hinze starting as the favourite after qualifying fastest in front of her home crowd.
Italian Miriam Vece was well placed early on, but was pipped by Ukrainian, Olena Starikova whose 33.403 was only 0.03 faster. However, last off, Hinze dominated, eventually winning gold by more than 0.7 of a second.
In the men’s Individual Pursuit home rider Nicolas Heinrich easily out-qualified his eventual opponent, Italian Davide Plebiani, but their gold medal race was a proper ding-dong battle. The German quickly gained a half second advantage, only for Plebani come back, but as the race hit the 3,000m mark the Italian tired and German took advantage, eventually winning by 3.5 seconds.
Before the bronze medal race Britain’s Charlie Tanfield had qualified half a second faster than his opponent, Manilo Moro, but leaked a deficit of half a second early in the 4,000m race. In the final kilometre he began chipping away at the Italian but was unable to get on terms, perhaps needed ing one more lap, eventually losing by a fraction.
The biggest surprise of the evening came in the women’s Individual Pursuit gold medal race. A clash of the titans, two Germans, Lisa Brennauer against Mieke Kröger. Both were part of the Team Pursuit winning quartet on Friday and are World and Olympic champions in that discipline.
Brennauer though is the individual pursuit world champion and qualified nearly 1.5 seconds faster than her compatriot. However, despite the older woman opening up an early lead of over more than a second, Kröger pegged her friend and compatriot back, eventually winning by 1.1 seconds.
The two women’s embrace afterwards was made more poignant as it was Brennauer’s final track race before retiring after the championships’ road events.
Team GB’s Josie Knight was always likely to be up against it in the bronze medal race after qualifying 0.7 second behind third placed qualifier, Vittoria Guazzini. The Italian duly went on to take third place by more than two seconds.
There are only three medal races on Sunday, the Women’s Point Race followed by the men’s Elimination, with the Sprint closing the fourth day of competition.
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