Laura Kenny and Katie Archibald combined to earn women’s Madison silver for Great Britain on the final day of the UEC European Track Championships in Apeldoorn today.
The Olympic team pursuit champions fought valiantly to claim gold, but were edged out by two points by defending champions Denmark, while Ollie Wood and Matt Walls finished eighth in the equivalent men’s race.
Kenny and Archibald made the perfect start to the 120-lap race, positioning themselves perfectly to take maximum points on each of the first two sprints.
However, some of that momentum was lost when they missed a changeover when well-placed heading into sprint 4, and consequently failed to score.
The rest of the field were able to capitalise, with Denmark’s Julie Leth and Amalie Dideriksen and Dutch world champions Kirsten Wild and Amy Pieters scoring regularly throughout the middle period of the race.
The British duo composed themselves and returned to form in sprint 8, though, riding well to take maximum points as Wild came off her bike whilst Pieters was in the action for the Netherlands.
They replicated that win in sprint 10, and with the crucial, double-point final sprint to come, Great Britain and the Netherlands were locked on 21 points apiece – six behind the Danes. A huge turn from Archibald caught the attacking French duo and ensured gold was a possibility, but even though Kenny brought Britain home in first place, the Danes were right on their wheel to ensure they claimed the six points they needed to finish on 33, to Britain’s 31.
Afterwards, Archibald said: “I’m exhausted – we put everything into that. I’ve got stuff to work on personally and we’ve got ways we can improve as a team, so while I wish we had scored those two more points for gold, I still feel optimistic about future races.”
In the men’s race, Walls and Wood – a bronze medallist alongside Ethan Hayter last year – were rewarded for their aggressive opening to the race as they scored well early on, but couldn’t keep pace with those at the top of the leaderboard as the race progressed.
Germany gained a lap with around 70 of the 200 laps gone, but the teams from Denmark, the Netherlands and France were able to eat into their lead as the intermediate sprints ticked by. The Danes – Lasse Norman Hansen and Michael Morkov – went into the final sprint with an unassailable 11-point lead, and were able to celebrate a golden final day as they crossed the line.
The Netherlands won the final sprint to draw level on points with the Germans and take the silver, with Wood and Walls ending on 13 points – 24 points off the podium.
Today’s silver medal adds to those of Emily Nelson (gold in the scratch race and silver in the elimination) the women’s team pursuit quarter (gold), the men’s team sprint (silver) and team pursuit (bronze) squads, Kenny (silver, omnium), Archibald (bronze, individual pursuit) and Wood (bronze, omnium) earlier in the championships.
Great Britain therefore end the event with a total of nine medals (two gold, four silver and three bronze) and now move on to the Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Cup series, the second round of which takes place in Glasgow from November 8-10.