It was another epic day of cycling action in Glasgow and across Scotland, with two further World titles for the Scottish stars on the track, following an Elite Men’s Road Race to remember, and MTB Marathon action down in the Tweed Valley.
Jenny Holl and her stoker Sophie Unwin secured a surprise sprint gold to make it three World titles in four days, making them the undoubted queens of the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome so far at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships.
As endurance riders, the Tandem B Sprint is not an event they put too much focus on, but have had success in before, but as we know in sport, momentum is huge.
Having already won gold in both the Kilo and Individual Pursuit, their confidence was sky high as they advanced to the gold medal final to take on Aussie pair Jessica Gallagher and Caitlin Ward. The first race was a physical affair, the strong Australian duo coming out on top.
That meant the Brits would have to win the next two sprints to take gold, but given endurance is their forte, perhaps it was the only way they’d do it. The second contest couldn’t have been much tighter as after conceding the inside line they had to come the long way to win it on the throw.
With a short turnaround before the third tussle, the writing was on the wall, and the execution superb, the crowd going wild as they won a third World title of the week.
Afterwards, Holl said:
“I’ll be honest, mid-afternoon today I said ‘we’re going to take it to three rides’ and someone said ‘why on earth would you want to do that!’ Obviously we’d ideally win it in two, but three is where we come into our own and we had such a short turnaround between the second and third ride, I thought ‘perfect, we’ve got them before we even get on the startline’.”
Moments before Fin Graham also got his hands on another rainbow jersey as he produced a classy ride to take victory in the Men’s C3 Individual Pursuit after an excellent performance in the final against teammate Jaco van Gass.
Defending his title was made even sweeter, as this was his first gold of these Championships, after tasting silver twice thus far, with van Gass besting him on both occasions. However as the events get longer, particularly looking towards the Road Race and Time Trial, you would be a fool to bet against the Highlander adding more.
After a trip to the podium, Graham said:
“I’m over the moon! This was the one that I wanted to win and coming into the event if I could win one it was this one, in front of a Scottish crowd. To get one over my teammate Jaco, who won in Tokyo, that’s a nice feeling and it’s one-all now!
“Celebrating in front of that crowd afterwards was something really special. I don’t even know what time I did, as come the final it’s just all about winning. I knew I was down in the first half, but as the crowd got louder and louder, I knew it was going in the right direction. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I made the most of celebrating in front of a Scottish crowd!”
Jack Carlin cruised into the semi-finals of the Men’s Sprint after a 2-0 win over Thomas Cornish of Australia in the quarter finals, he’ll be racing for medals tomorrow.
Neil Fachie and Matt Rotherham were also on top form after easing their way into the Men’s B Sprint Semi-Final on the tandem, they’ll be hoping to duplicate Holl and Unwin’s success tomorrow.
With the mountain biking world moving from Fort William to Glentress overnight, it was the first chance for the Tweed Valley to show it’s colours, and that it did with a monster day of Marathon racing.
With an incredible course, which the late Rab Wardell played a major role in developing, and a healthy dose of Scottish summertime weather, the racing was a tough as you’d expect. Off first were the Elite Men, Cameron Mason and Grant Ferguson the two Scots in GB colours.
Mason started the race in 60th place but was up to 21st by the top of the first climb and soon towards the head of the race. Leading down one of the main descents of the day, ‘Angry Sheep’ showed the level this young man is now able to operate at, and as the halfway stage he was in fourth place.
Unfortunately he didn’t quite have the strength to battle with the leaders over the last two hours of the four and a half hour race, but can take so many positives from his efforts as he finished 36th – Grant Ferguson came home in 63rd.
Afterwards an emotional Mason said:
“That was really tough! I’m pretty emotional, as at quite a lot of points I was just thinking about Rab, so it was just really, really tough. But I’m so proud – I’m the lucky one as I get to be out there suffering and that’s the best bit – I blew up massively around the Golfie but for the last two hours I was suffering but it’s not real suffering, as it’s just what he would want to be doing and I’m just so proud I could do it, and just do a good job.
“The crowd was amazing and every time people were shouting for me I was just so happy and so proud that I was doing what I was doing – it made such a big difference. I don’t think I realised before how insane it would feel, riding these trails with my friends and family cheering me on.”
In the Elite Women’s race Isla Short led the charge on home trails, the very trails where she learnt to ride a bike, and was joined on the GB team by Joanne Thom, Kim Baptista and Jane Barr. Short rode a measured race. Starting in the sun and finishing in the torrential rain they all came home with stories to tell, largely of how amazing the home support was. Short led the way, as expected, coming home in 27th, with Thom 31st, Baptista 36th and Barr 42nd.
The Mountain Bike action continues on Wednesday with the Team Relay, before the Junior, U23 and Elite races over the following three days.