Published: 07th Aug 2023 Images: Scottish Cycling

Fachie underlines G.O.A.T status as Evans is on top of the World

Neil Fachie OBE and Matt Rotherham sent the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome into raptures with a stunning Tandem Sprint victory, before Neah Evans and Madison partner Elinor Barker lifted the roof off with a thrilling Madison victory.

Neil Fachie OBE and Matt Rotherham sent the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome into raptures with a stunning Tandem Sprint victory, before Neah Evans and Madison partner Elinor Barker lifted the roof off with a thrilling Madison victory.

Not done there, Jack Carlin took bronze in the Men’s Elite Sprint, the local lad getting the better of his Polish rival in straight sprints, much to the adoration of his home crowd.

First up though were Fachie and Rotherham, who went head-to-head against the German pairing of Thomas Ulbricht and Robert Forstemann, but starting as favourites after their kilo triumph a couple of days ago, they were full of confidence.

The Germans surprised them though, going to the front in the first sprint and stealing a march, making the Brits come the long way round, which they did, just, getting the win on the line. The celebration from Rotherham underlined just how tough that was, as coming round the long way on a tandem is no mean feat.

From there it was a formality, controlling the second encounter from the front, never relinquishing that position as they crossed the line, arms aloft.

Commenting on World title number 18, Fachie said:

“I said it on Friday when we got the 17th, that was special, but there is something about the tandem sprint event – the crowd love it, we love it, it’s an event that people want to see. So when you’re out there racing in tough, tough races and you get the win in front of that crowd, it’s what memories are made of.

“That brings back memories of Glasgow 2014 and the same thing, the tandem sprint and it was everyone’s favourite event then. What a weekend it has been.”

The Madison is one of the craziest events in track cycling at the best of times, but somehow Evans and Barker navigated one of the most chaotic editions in recent memory to be crowned World Champions. With crashes galore, missed changeovers, failed lap attempts and a stoppage with just two laps to go, it was a race that had everything.

In the end the crowd had to wait for the scoreboard to confirm the result, as even the final sprint to the line gave an unclear outcome.

With sprint points up for grabs every ten laps, it took until lap thirsty for Aberdonian Evans to get on the board, but two wins and a second place in quick succession put them in the lead, and gave them a grip on the race. Off the front for a while with the Australians and Polish, they tried to gain a lap, but the bunch worked hard to bring them back. No drama at this point, as they continued to chip away, adding to their points tally.

However inside the final 10 laps it was still tight on the leaderboard before a big crash just beyond the finish line saw three riders go down. Initially the race continued, GB stealing a march before with just two to go, victory looking like a forgone conclusion, before the commissaires stopped the race and reset the counter to nine laps to go – the right decision to get medical attention the injured riders.

From the restart it was a tense affair, the Brits slightly out of position, but a massive turn from Evans to move them up, before swinging Barker in to finish the job saw them cross the line third and secure the World title.

The crowd, who had been treated to a memorable session, loved it, and so did Evans, as she said:

“It’s a bit surreal. You come into it, and you know you’re in a good place, albeit I had a training crash last week, but apart from that I knew I was in a good place, and if we get the luck on the day we can do this. So it’s really nice that it came together and we came away World Champions!

“Racing the World Championships in itself is special. So to do it in front of a home crowd, in the velodrome I learnt to ride on, and so many people up in the stands cheering you on, it’s incredible.”

Asked if it takes the pressure off her Points Race World title defence tomorrow, she added:

“Yes and no! Obviously this is going to have taken quite a chunk out of me, so I’m not going into tomorrow fresh, but I also know that I’m in a good place physically and had a lot of fun racing tonight – it was carnage but I really enjoyed it. So, I just want to go out and have fun tomorrow and if I can defend it then brilliant, but if not I’m going to give it a good go.”

Jack Carlin put the icing on the cake of what can only be described as a magic Monday, getting the better of his nemesis Mateusz Rudyk of Poland, to clinch sprint bronze.

Looking good in qualifying yesterday, he drew the seemingly unassailable Harrie Lavreysen in the semi-finals, and despite a brilliant second ride, came up just short, meaning it was a battle for bronze that he must face.

In the first match up Carlin was tactically perfect, holding the front as the pace wound up, before forcing his opponent the long way round the track, diving down to the black line with 200 to go and holding him off.

That set up two chances at a medal, and Carlin wasn’t going to mess about. Coming from the back this time, he rushed the gap down the backstraight to get onto Rudyk’s shoulder, before an almighty tussle round the bend and down the home straight.

Then came the throw of his life to take it on the line – when it flashed up on the scoreboard the crowd went wild and the Paisley man soaked up the adoration, arms aloft.

Reflecting afterwards in typically honest fashion, Carlin said:

“Am I disappointed – yes – I still want to win in front of my home crowd, but I’ve still got that opportunity in the Keirin now and I’m really confident after that. I’m proud of what I did tonight – I think if it wasn’t here I’d be a bit disappointed, but because it’s Glasgow, they were all celebrating and jumping with joy. I’ve loved every second of racing here so far and it’s been one of the best experiences of my cycling career and I hope I can replicate it in the next couple of days.”

Scottish riders have now won 12 medals at these World Championships so far, with plenty more opportunities to come, starting with Fachie and Evans tomorrow, whilst Mark Stewart joins the ‘super worlds’ party in the Madison and Anna Shackley goes in the Mixed TTT around Glasgow city centre.