It wasn’t the fairytale ending to the track action at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships that the Scottish fans hoped for, but Katie Archibald and Jack Carlin battled all the way to the line and their efforts gave them plenty to cheer for.
Archibald, with a World title to her name already in the Women’s Team Pursuit, went in the Women’s Omnium, with four events squeezed into a single session.
The Scratch Race kicked off proceedings, and in truth it was a largely dull affair, until Archibald herself went on the offensive, putting everyone on the back foot. The Kiwi and Dane then went over the top in a bid to gain a lap, ultimately failing, but the Danish rider managed to stay clear of the bunch to take maximum points, Archibald crossing the line fourth to bag a handy 34 points.
The Tempo race was quite the opposite, the French rider immediately attacking and eventually taking a lap to put her in pole position, before the American did the same, Archibald leading the reaction. Heavily marked, she was given no wiggle room, and next to escape were the Aussie, Pole and Japanese rider, who all gained a lap. That meant there was only a handful of minor points left over, so in the end it was joint tenth for Archibald, and seventh overall, meaning she had work to do.
The Elimination Race was a crash marred affair, with numerous riders hitting the deck, thankfully none of them seriously hurt. Archibald stayed upright, but an early exit meant she sat in eighth going into the final event.
The Points Race is where the Milngavie girl showed her true colours, heart on her sleeve, attacking time and time again. It was a valiant display, pain wretched across her face at times, as she managed to gain two laps and keep her medal chances alive. In the end though it would be mission impossible in the final sprint, and so it proved, as she came up just short in fourth place.
Reflecting afterwards, she said:
“I’m frustrated with how I went through the event as a whole, but it’s nice to finish on a race where I feel like I’ve given it my all. The Scratch didn’t go to plan, and the Tempo went so far from how I wanted it to, and then I made that massive mistake in the Elimination Race. The pressure was gone then and I did two things well in the Points Race, and that worked out to be fourth place.”
It was similar story in Keirin for Jack Carlin, as he can agonisingly close to doubling his medal tally for the week.
Flawless through the rounds, with second in his quarter-final, almost identical tactics to his round one win last night, and a similarly composed passage to the final. Tactically he was as good as he has ever been, and his confidence sky high.
Racing from the front throughout, come the final he was drawn six, right at the back of the line as the derny wound up the pace. With half a lap before it peeled off he accelerated around the outside, just timing his run to perfection, to take the head of the race as it exited onto the Cote d’Azur.
Unfortunately that caused chaos behind, Lavreysen, the multi World and Olympic champion coming flying over the top, the rest of the race run at an infernal pace, jostling throughout. In simple terms, the favourites fought so hard amongst themselves, boxing each other in, that Columbian Quintero Chavarro had a relatively easy passage round the outside in the last half lap to take a shock gold.
Lavreysen, Carlin and Hoogland, the big three, had to settle for fourth, fifth and sixth.
Gutted with how the final played out, Carlin was still aware enough to know he can take a lot from this week, particularly in terms of confidence and race craft. He noted afterwards:
“Tactically I was flawless until the final, and I was racing really well, but it was just a very strange final. A few people panicked I think – I got to the front, was aggressive and made sure I was in the mix, but then it was full guns blazing, but that’s Keirin racing.
“I came here for the win, especially in front of my home crowd, but either way it’s been one of the most incredible weeks of my career racing in front them, my family and just the Scottish people.”
After a couple of days off, the Cross Country Mountain Bike action resumed at Glentress with the Mixed Team Relay, with Great Britain taking a strong sixth place.
Seeded seventh, they went one better than their ranking, the team happy with their efforts. With a male and female in each of the three categories – Junior, U23 and Elite – making up the team, it was a full squad effort.
Charlie Aldridge led the team off with a blistering lap, putting GB in the lead, with solid efforts from Anna McGorum and Emily Carrick-Anderson also producing strong rides to help the team to that sixth place finish.
Setting the fastest lap of the day, Aldridge said:
“I was a bit nervous today, but as soon as the gun went I was fully focused and I wanted to lead the whole lap if possible so I could control the descents and then go as deep as I could on the climbs. I’m really, really happy with it and I surprised myself with that time!”
“The nice thing about the relay is it makes mountain biking more of a team sport, which is really cool – it’s fun to race with the whole team and I think we can be happy with our result.”
Callum Thornley made his World Championship debut as Stirling joined the ‘super worlds’ party on a lovely sunny Wednesday afternoon. Contesting the U23 Men’s Time Trial, the Borders man was one of the early starters, rolling down the start ramp just after 3pm.
The course, which suited the strongman, was one that required a lot of power, but also careful pacing, with a headwind on the way out and a few rolling hills on the way back, before the iconic but gruelling climb up to Stirling Castle.
Passed by his minute man, who went on to take the title, Thornley fought all the way to the line, suffering up the steep cobbles, but could be very proud of his efforts to take a fantastic 14th place.
Of the experience, Thornley said:
“I stuck to my plan out on the road and got everything out – I couldn’t have done anything else.
“It was amazing seeing all the home support – it was quite a buzz – even going through small towns like Gargunnock and Cambusbarron, the roads were lined with people and hearing my name was pretty surreal. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I was just trying to soak it all in beforehand – it was hard not to get carried away at the start.”
Thursday will be another day of varied action, with Mountain Biking in Glentress, Para-Road Time Trials in Dumfries and Galloway, and Trials on Glasgow Green.
Great Britain currently top the medal table a week into the championships, with Scotland contributing to an impressive 15 medals.