German home gold opens track cycling worlds

Berlin, The Netherlands had two golds and two world records to celebrate on the opening night of the track cycling world championships in Berlin on Wednesday and there was also a win for hosts Germany.

Kirsten Wild of the Netherlands claimed her third 10-kilometre scratch race, and seventh worlds gold overall, with a narrow victory over Jennifer Valente of the United States, according to dpa.

And the Dutch men proved unbeatable in the men’s team sprint, twice lowering Germany’s world record from 2013 as they dispatched Britain in the final.

German fans did go home happy however as Emma Hinze and Pauline Grabosch delivered women’s team sprint gold against Australia.

Wild won the rainbow jersey in the non-Olympic scratch discipline in 2015 and 2018 but had to settle for silver a year ago in Poland.

The 37-year-old held her nerve until deep into the 40 laps of the Berlin velodrome to take the lead from Britain’s most successful female Olympian, Laura Kenny, who was racing with a broken shoulder.

Kenny eventually slipped to fourth in the frantic dash for the line with bronze going to Maria Martins of Portugal.

Wild said she was super happy with her tactics and the outcome. I try to never be in the wind going into the last two laps.

Olympic medals have eluded her but with the scratch race not contested at the coming Tokyo Games, this victory is to be savoured rather than considered a stepping stone.

Of course it’s nice to win the title, [not] looking ahead to the Olympics, just enjoying this title, she said.

Kenny regretted not holding on but did not blame her injury, saying her shoulder was fine when on the bike.

The Netherlands set two team sprint world records in around an hour as they retained their world title from 2019.

Roy Van den Berg, Jeffrey Hoogland, Harrie Lavreysen posted 41.225 seconds to defeat Britain (42.400 seconds) in the final having already raced 41.275 seconds in the first round.

It was awesome, [to cut] six of a tenth was insane, said Lavreysen while Matthijs Buchli, who raced in the heat, predicted there was even more to come.

I think everyone is a bit more like the British this Olympic cycle, finding marginal gains, having some more in storage, he said. The kit should be faster at the Olympics, the bikes we use and the track is faster there.

Jason Kenny, six-time Olympic champion, was left helpless alongside Jack Carlin and Ryan Owens, as the Dutch dominated from the gun.

The previous record, 41.871 seconds by Germany, lasted seven years.

Australia (42.829 seconds) beat France (43.213 seconds) for bronze.

Hinze and Grabosch, aided by Lea Friedrich in the early heats, knocked Australian reigning champions Kaarle McCulloch and Stephanie Morton off their perch despite having trailed early in the 2-lap dash.

It still feels like in a dream, said Hinze. That we’ve gone so fast is unbelievable.

Germany recovered to win in 32.163 seconds to the 32.384 seconds of the Australians while China (32.371) beat Russia (32.466) for bronze.

The championships opened with a pulsating, upbeat ceremony as sport elsewhere in the world was cancelled or imposed restrictions because of the coronavirus.

That topic was briefly addressed by Rudolf Scharping, president of the German cycling federation (BDR), who believes the Tokyo Olympics are not in danger.

I assume that the Olympic Games will take place, he said. Everything else would be irresponsible speculation.

In the men’s team pursuit, Denmark twice cut the world record with Lasse Hansen, Julius Johansen, Frederik Madsen and Rasmus Pedersen posting 3 minutes 46.203 seconds in their first round win over Italy.

Hours earlier they had posted 3:46.579 minutes the over 4 kilometers, shattering Australia’s mark set in winning the 2019 world title.

The final against New Zealand takes place Thursday, as does the women’s team pursuit which has the United States seeded first in the last eight from qualifying.

Source: Bahrain News Agency