The capacity crowd packed into the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome for final session of the UCI Juniors World Championships were treated to some truly memorable performances from some of the future stars of World and Olympic track and road racing.
The day started with Heat One of the Women's Keirin, Round One, a controversial affair that saw a warning issued to Russia’s Tatiana Kiseleva, who was judged to have entered the sprinter's lane when a nearby opponent was already there. However, her winning margin was sufficiently great for her to be awarded victory nonetheless. Colombia's Martha Bayona took second place, which meant automatic qualification for the diminutive South American too.
First and second in Heat Two were the dominant women’s sprinters of these Championships, Dannielle Khan (GBR) and Nicky Degrendele (BEL). There was more controversy in Heat 3: behind the French winner, Mélissandre Pain, the Russian rider Ekaterina Rogovaya was relegated for entering the sprinter's lane and baulking Italy’s Natasha Grillo, who finished millimetres behind her. Grillo moved into second place and automatic qualification.
The fourth event of the Women's Omnium was the Individual Pursuit, over two kilometres. Great Britain’s Emily Kay achieved the first sub-2:30 ride of the day. Her time of 2:28.858 - a Personal Best by four seconds - was threatened by Macey Stewart, who finished in 2:29.151, and never looked in danger again. Kay took the win, with Stewart second, and Anna Knauer (GER) third in 2:30.635.
The overnight Omnium leader, France;s Soline Lamboley, could finish no better than tenth, and dropped two places in the overall standings to third. Knauer replaced her at the top of the table with 10 points, followed by Stewart (AUS, 14 points), Lamboley (FRA, 15 points). Kay (GBR) moved into fourth place with two events yet to ride.
The first heat of the Women's Keirin repechages saw a series of controversial incidents. As the riders jockeyed for position behind the derny, Kim (KOR) touched a wheel and went down. She was unhurt, and the heat was re-started. Then, in the re-run, McCormick (USA) crashed. A gap opened behind the lead rider, India's Deborah. She intelligently sped away and, with Rogovaya (RUS) giving chase, won the heat. Behind those two, Kim (KOR), recovered from her crash, took the third and final qualification place.
The racing continued with the fifth event of the Women's Omnium: the Scratch Race, over 7.5 km, or 20 laps. After a cagey start, Ireland’s Hayley Priestley was the first rider to escape, with 18 laps to go. Maria Abramova (RUS) and Kinley Gibson (CAN) broke across together and joined her. Five laps later, Priestley dropped off the group, and rode the final 14 laps alone. With 11 circuits left, Abramova and Gibson reached the back of the peloton. Seconds before they did so, another small group attacked the pelton, containing Kinley Gibson (CAN), Maria Vittoria Sperotto (ITA) and Bailey Semian (USA). Six hard laps brought them past Hayley Priestley to the back of the peloton again.
Of the five athletes who had lapped the field, Gibson (CAN) was the best finisher in the final sprint: fifth, behind Lamboley (FRA), Knauer (GER), Kay (GBR) and Stewart (AUS). Gibson took the win, moving into bronze medal position in the provisonal Omnium standings. Knauer (GER) still led, with 18 points. Second was Lamboley (FRA, 22 points), then Gibson with 23 points, and then, in turn, Stewart (USA), Sperotto (ITA) and Kay (GBR) with 24, 25 and 26 points respectively. With one event, the 500m Time Trial, to go, Knauer looked safe, but the other two medal slots were still wide open.
In the first semi-final of the Men's Sprint, Australia’s Patrick Constable fell heavily on the penultimate bend while sprinting alongside the Lithuanian Svanjunas Jonauskas. His skinsuit was torn to shreds, and Constable was quickly diagnosed with a suspected fractured left collarbone. To compound the injury, Constable was given a warning by the commissaires for entering the sprinters lane when his opponent was already there. Constable (NZl) was unable to start the deciding heat of the Men’s Sprint, so Jonauskas only had to present himself on the start line in order to pass.
In Round 2 of the Women's Keirin, Degrandele (BEL), Kim (KOR), Kiseleva (RUS) moved routinely into the final of the Women’s Keirin. In the other heat, Khan moved to the front with 250m to go, and opened four bike lengths to win alone. In her wake, Mélissandre Pain (FRA) and Martha Bayona (COL) took the remaining places in the final.
The semi-finals of the Men's Sprint saw Jeremy Presbury (NZl) and Vladislav Fedin (RUS) share the first two heats, then the Kiwi won the decider from the front to pass into the gold medal final. Presbury-Jonauskas for the gold medal. In the absence of Patrick Constable, Vladislav Fedin had only to present himself at the race start to win the bronze medal.
Riding in Heat Four of the 500m Time trial, the sixth event of the Women's Omnium, Emily Kay (GBR) achieved a time of 37.699 seconds, surpassing the previous best time, 37.729 seconds, set by Katsiaryna Piatrouskaya (BLR) in the previous heat. Her time stood until the final heat, between the two Omnium leaders, Knauer (GER) and (Lamboley (FRA). Those two riders set the fastest and second fastest times, in that order, with Knauer the only sub-37 second sprinter.
The result brought Anna Knauer a well-deserved gold medal, with Soline Lamboley the worthy silver-medallist. Emily Kay secured the bronze medal for the home nation with her excellent ride.
In the final of the Women's Keirin, Mélissandre Pain (FRA) overcame the hot favourite, Dannielle Khan (GBR) with a brilliant, last gasp acceleration. Khan had ridden the final lap at the front, and perhaps paid the price. However, she still added a silver medal to the two golds she had won earlier in the week.
Behind those two, Degrendele (BEL) faded in the closing metres, and Soojin Kim (KOR) darted through to take the bronze medal.
Then came the Men's Sprint final and, in an enthralling first race of a possible three, Presbury (NZl) beat Jonauskas (LTU) by half a wheel. In the second of the series, the Lithuanian drew level by attacking on the penultimate bend and holding off the Kiwi over the closing 200 metres.
Before those two gladiators could conclude their contest, there was time for a truly extraordinary Men's Madison, punctuated by a series of crashes, errors and exhilarating attacks.
Seconds after winning the second intermediate sprint after 40 laps, Australia’s Sam Wellsford feel spectacularly. He ended up on the ground, with some nasty track rash, watching his bike disappear around the trap, his handlebars hooked around the saddle post of the Frenchman Jordan Levasseur.
By the time Wellsford had remounted and rejoined the race, his torn clothing flapping in the wind, Denmark, New Zealand and Great Britain had launched the decisive attack. They made their move in lap 41 and worked together until the British rider Matt Gibson collided with a dropped rider. As he recovered from the physical and mechanical consequences, the Danes and the Kiwis persevered together and, with 61 circuits to go, they gained a lap. The British pair fought hard, but attacks from Australia and Colombia at the front of the field prevented them ever lapping the field and, with 41 laps to go, after some 25 circuits riding alone, they were swallowed by the peloton. Their hard work had come to nothing.
In the ninety-ninth lap, a tiny error effectively decided the race. Moments before the sprint with twenty laps to go, the New Zealand pair missed a change. Ahead of them, the Danes placed third in the sprint. Things got even worse for the Kiwis when Regan Gough crashed with just eleven laps to go, in an incident that also involved the German and Czech teams.
With eight laps to go, responding to an attack by the British pair, Denmark attacked. The Kiwis responded in heroic fashion, and Gough, the faller, chased like a man possessed over the final two laps. But it was too late: Mathias Krigbaum had already crossed the line, and won a race that will long remain in the memory of the capacity crowd that witnessed it.
After all that drama, the velodrome fell silent for the final match of the Men’s Sprint final. The tall, elegant Presbury and the short, powerful Jonauskas were evenly matched. But the Lithuanian made the racing, committed himself early to the sprint, and surged passed the Kiwi to earn Lithuania’s only medal of the week in the final seconds of the last race of this Championships.