The second of five days at the 2020 UCI Track Cycling World Championships presented by Tissot saw gold medals go to the Netherlands, Belarus, Denmark and USA in Berlin.
The men’s team pursuit, the first final to be settled on Thursday, seemed destined to be a history-maker. And it did not disappoint.
In the bronze final, Italy put the power down and applied pressure on Australia who responded but overcooked it and lost their third man, with the Italians staying organised and overhauling their opponents. The blues took bronze with a strong performance from Fillipo Ganna leading the charge on the last two laps in a time of 3:47.511, which would have given them a world record just a couple of days ago… if only the Danes weren’t on such amazing form.
Onto the gold final, and the Danish quartet – Lasse Norman Hansen, Julius Johansen, Frederik Madsen and Rasmus Pedersen – who beat the world record twice on Wednesday, took on New Zealand.
It’s a big change from last year when Denmark won the bronze final, following 2018’s silver, but had to watch on as Australia claimed the gold ahead of Great Britain. The past 12 months have seen a significant power shift towards the Nordic nation.
With a push by Pedersen the Danes were almost a second up on the Kiwis after the first of 4km, hitting 68km/h. Chasing down the men all in black they received an aero advantage, to push their phenomenal pace even further.
And despite a couple of shaky changes (Johansen almost clipping the back wheel of his team-mate) the Danish boys powered home to take the gold medals and the rainbow jerseys, and broke – smashed – their own world record in a time of 3:44:672, taking a further 1.5 seconds off the time set 24 hours earlier.
“I just think we have an amazing team,” said Frederik Rodenberg Madsen. “The four of us and our support team, they have been amazing. I think they believe in us even more than we do.”
Before this squad came to Germany this February the record stood at 3.48, and on the neat spruce pine boards in Berlin, it has been taken apart with an astonishing new time way under 3:45. If the Danes wanted to put a target on their back for Tokyo they’ve gone about it the right way. But who could catch them?
USA women’s return is complete
The women’s team pursuit saw hosts Germany take a somewhat unexpected but noisily welcomed victory over Canada in the bronze final, as an exciting warm-up for the gold final between USA and Great Britain.
The USA quartet – who have had their issues following their three-year dominance, took an early advantage, and pushed it out to 2 seconds by half distance, holding strong against a late surge from their opponents to win in 4:11.235, a second outside the British women’s world record.
The pressure was on the American women, but they delivered, and Chloé Dygert Owen picked up a Stars and Stripes flag for a victory lap having put Team USA back on top of the world.
"It was a special achievement for us in the first worlds since Kelly's passing and this race is dedicated to her,” said Dygert Owen. “We had Kelly in our hearts and that got us to the line first."
High speed poker in the Men’s Scratch Race
With 30 laps to go a group of eight riders broke away but without full commitment, it was closed down. The Swiss Mauro Schmidt hit on the counter-attack, followed by Yauheni Karaliok of Belarus. Their half-lap lead was closed down, but only by Sebastián Mora Vedri of Spain and Roy Eefting of the Netherlands. The Spaniard and Belarussian – 2016 and 2018 UCI World Champions respectively – broke free and claimed a lap on the main group. With seven laps to go the pair pushed on, Vedri doing all the work and Karaliok playing a perfect poker bluff, sat on the Spanish rider’s wheel throughout.
With three laps to go more riders made the junction: Mat Walls of Great Britain, USA’s Adrian Hegyvary and Simone Consonni of Italy, to force a sprint for the medals. It was Karaliok who capitalised on his tactics to take gold and reclaim the rainbow jersey; Consonni silver and the bronze for the hard-working Mora Vedri.
Global podium in the keirin
With a world class field in the men’s keirin 7-12 final, including 2019 gold and silver medalists Matthijs Büchli (who hit the deck), Yudai Nitta (relegated), Sébastien Vigier and Jason Kenny – who all finished in the wake of the Dutchman Jeffrey Hoogland’s 1.85m frame – how would the gold final play out?
It was the only Dutch rider, Harrie Lavreysen, still glowing form his part in the team sprint gold medal the previous day, who won to swap orange for rainbow stripes, with Yuta Wakimoto of Japan second and 2017 champion Mohd Azizulhasni Awang of Malaysia in third.
There’s more track racing from Berlin on Friday, including rainbow jerseys to be won in the women’s sprint, men’s kilo time trial and men’s individual pursuit.