After five days of racing in the combined cycling event at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Buenos Aires (Argentina), Kazakhstan proved the most consistent men’s team, while Denmark claimed gold in the women’s competition.
For both the men’s and women’s competitions, teams of two athletes competed in five events on five consecutive days: three on the road (team time trial, road race and criterium) and two for mountain bike (cross-country Eliminator and cross-country Short Circuit). From each event, the results of both team members were combined to calculate the winning nation across the five days.
With the most combined points in the three road events, Kazakhstan’s Gleb Brussenskiy and Yevgeniy Fedorov took the overall honours in the men’s competition. The two athletes finished the five days of racing with a clear lead (418 points) over second-placed Luxembourg (276 points).
Luxembourg (Nicolas Kess and Arthur Kluckers) claimed second in the team time trial and the road race to take the silver medal, while Great Britain (Harry Birchill and Sean Flynn) finished third overall: Birchill won both the cross-country Eliminator and the Criterium.
In the women’s competition, Denmark’s Sofie Heby Pedersen and Mie Saabye scored the most points as a team in three of the five events (team time trial, cross-country Eliminator and cross-country Short Circuit) to take the gold medal. Despite a poor showing on the final day’s Criterium, they had done enough to stay in the lead, finishing with a total of 376 points.
They were strongly challenged by Austria (mountain bike and road UCI Junior World Champion Laura Stigger and Hannah Streicher) who finished just 25 points behind the winners. A further 100 points back, Hungary’s Virag Buzsaki and Blanka Vas claimed bronze.
The team format of the competitions got the thumbs-up from the athletes: “We won and lost together and were a true team,” said Laura Stigger, individual winner of the two women’s mountain bike events. “That is important. I think it is a great way of doing it, and it’s produced a very special competition,” she told the Olympic News Service.
Great Britain’s Harry Birchill added that the five days of racing required not only physical ability but a certain amount of mental arithmetic: “At the end of each race, you’d be calculating where you need to finish the next day, what points you need, and talk tactics. But this event was positive, because it could change with each race.”
The combined cycling event was the third cycling event on the YOG programme in Buenos Aires after BMX Racing and BMX Freestyle.