It was another night to remember at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome as Scotland’s track stars won another three medals on the second night of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships.
On a night when Great Britain’s para-riders won a whopping nine medals, it was Neil Fachie who led the way with World title number 17, whilst Jenny Holl and stoker Sophie Unwin picked up where they left off last night with another world title, this time in the Women’s Tandem B 3km Pursuit.
Tandem racing seems to go from strength to strength in Scotland, as do Holl and Unwin, an endurance pairing that seem to be able to do it all. Drawn against British friends and rivals Lora Fachie (wife of Neil) and Corrine Hall in the gold medal ride, it would come down to pacing, which Holl and Unwin got spot on.
Trailing at 1km, they didn’t panic, and rode a race that played to their strengths, pilling on the pressure in the final 1km to come home clear victors, stopping the clock in 3.22.513, winning by almost three seconds.
Stirling’s Holl was again delighted with their efforts, exclaiming:
“This was the event we came in hoping to win, so to execute it after qualifying second on Wednesday is just brilliant. We are not Kilo riders, so yesterday was a shock – this is the one we really wanted.”
There was a 17th World title for Neil Fachie and his pilot Matt Rotherham, but they had to do it the hard way in the Men’s Tandem B 1km Time Trial.
Having been the only pairing to go under the fabled 60 second barrier in qualifying, the duo started as favourites, but their compatriots James Ball and Steffan Lloyd set the fastest time, 1.00.329, meaning they wouldn’t have it all their own way.
Starting quickly, the Aberdonian and his pilot were up after the first of four laps, but slipped behind through 500m and 750m, meaning it would take a big last lap to clinch gold. The crowd backing them all the way, they dug deep in this gruelling event, to stop the clock in 1.00.287, snatching gold at the death.
Delighted to be collecting another rainbow jersey, Fachie said:
“First and foremost, being back at this velodrome for my first big race since Glasgow 2014, which is still one of the absolute highlights of my career, so just to be back here is absolutely amazing. It’s also my first world title with my son in the crowd, so that’s really special too. The crowd here are just so good, and that’s the reason we won that today – they were pushing us.”
There was also a splendid silver medal for Fin Graham in the Men’s C3 1km Time Trial, the Strathpeffer man setting PBs in qualifying and in the final to back up the silver he won in this event 12 months ago.
Getting out of the gate hard, Graham knew he’d have the strength in the back end of the four-lap event, given his endurance pedigree, and such was the case as he come home in 1.06.450, a sizeable PB that put him in the lead. Knowing a medal was his with only two more riders to go, he had a nervous wait to find out what colour – in the end it was silver.
Of his efforts, Graham said:
“This morning I didn’t know what to expect – the kilo isn’t my best event – but I qualified third and it was all fairly close and I knew Jaco was the guy to beat. I’m glad I was able to nick the silver off the Kiwi – I managed to survive a bit better on that last lap. So, I’m really happy with that and it’s on to Scratch tomorrow and the Pursuit final on Sunday.”
In the final event of the day, the Men’s Team Sprint, Ali Fielding and Jack Carlin had to settle for an agonizing fourth place after losing out to France in the closing metres of the bronze medal ride. Carlin was drafted in for Round 1, having sat out the Qualifying Round yesterday, and made all the difference as a brilliant third lap saw the team into the medal ride.
In the final GB reverted to Joe Truman on anchor, resting Carlin for the individual events to come. Fielding though was ferocious out of the gate, his best leadoff leg so far setting the team up perfectly. In fact they led France all the way until the final 100m, when bronze just slipped away.
In the morning session, Katie Archibald got her World Championship campaign underway in the Women’s Team Pursuit, some typically big turns helping her GB squad to top the qualifying standings with a 4.10.333 clocking. They’ll go in Round 1 against France at 12.03 on Saturday.
Lauren Bell, fresh from her silver medal winning exploits last night, was back in action in the Women’s 500m, posting a personal best time of 33.992 to finish 12th in qualifying, just shy of a spot in the next round.
Tomorrow Holl, Graham and Archibald go for more medals, whilst Carlin starts his individual Sprint campaign.
Up in Fort William, the MTB Downhill party really got going, as the Junior Finals took place at midday, followed by Elite Qualifying in the afternoon. Before all that though our first Race The Worlds finals took place – Scotland’s rising downhill stars showing what they’re made of – read all about that here.
Aimi Kenyon produced an excellent ride on her fan-favourite IRN-BRU coloured bike to finish in fourth place in the Junior Women’s Downhill final.
The West Highland Wheelers graduate just missed out on the podium by just over a second, with the Kiwis taking a clean sweep of the podium, but can be proud of a very strong performance in front of her home crowd.
Summing it up, Kenyon said:
“I knew as soon as I crossed the line that it wasn’t my best run. I’m not disappointed with the result – fourth is still incredible – but I would have been happier if I’d have done the run I wanted. I’m still happy, and it’s been amazing and the best feeling ever to have the crowd shouting your name.”
Fort William native Nina Yves-Cameron bounced back from a crash on the blustery top section of the course, to come home in 26th place and was actually four seconds quicker than yesterday’s qualifying run.
An understandably disappointed Yves-Cameron told Scottish Cycling:
“My race run wasn’t amazing, I slid out on the corner and I hit the deck pretty hard and I couldn’t unclip, so I had a bit of a poor run and my race got bogged down, but I still ended up quicker than yesterday, so I was onto a good one, but hey ho, that’s racing!”
We’re sure it certainly won’t be the last UCI World Championships the Highlander will be racing in.
In Elite Qualifying, Greg Williamson came home in 16th place in the men’s, after spending a decent chunk of the run as the fastest qualifier, and was pleased with his performance, although unlike World Cup events, qualifying does not affect his starting position for the final.
The Madison-Saracen rider told Scottish Cycling after qualifying:
“The crowd was super loud, which is what you want! It was a solid enough run, I still need to tidy a few bits up for tomorrow, and then I think we’ll be onto a good one!”
The trio of Scots in the Women’s Elite Qualifying came home in the top 20, Phoebe Gale the best of the bunch with an 11th place finish, while Lou Ferguson was the quickest of the Fort William riders in 16th place, with fellow local rider Mikayla Parton, easily identifiable by her Tartan trousers, coming home in 19th place.
All four elite riders will be racing again tomorrow in the Elite Final. Stay tuned for what poses to be an excellent day of racing.
A plethora of Scots took to the roads of Perthshire for the Gran Fondo, with some excellent performances on a typically testing Scottish course.