Olympic team pursuit champion Joanna Rowsell sealed her second gold medal of the first event of the UCI Track World Cup 2013/14 season by storming to individual pursuit success in Manchester.
Rowsell continued where she had left off the previous night, when the team pursuit quartet smashed their world record on the way to gold, to overhaul Australia’s Rebecca Wiasak in the semi-final.
Despite telling reporters she was still not 100 per cent fit after the collarbone injury she suffered in August at the RideLondon elite women’s criterium in St James Park, Rowsell set the pace in qualifying with a sensational 3:34.341 at an average speed of more than 50km/h.
Her qualifying time was more than a second faster than fellow finalist Wiasak, and she went almost as fast again in the final, leading from the start to win in emphatic style.
Scotland’s teen sensation Katie Archibald – who won silver in the scratch race the previous night to extend her recent good form – won bronze after a stunning comeback in the ‘B’ final.
The 19-year-old – who qualified in third place – trailed by more than five seconds after a slow start against Poland’s Eugenia Bujak, but, backed by a vocal crowd, stormed back to overturn the deficit and win by more than three seconds.
Also in the medals was Great Britain’s double world champion, Becky James, but the 21-year-old had to settle for bronze in the individual sprint after losing to in-form Kristina Vogel of Germany in the semi-finals.
James kicked off the day with an impressive showing to qualify in sixth place for the sprint finals, with team mate Jess Varnish seventh.
The Welsh sensation steadily improved throughout the first session, comfortably beating China’s Shi’s Jingjing in the second round before twice attacking from the front to see off Elis Ligtlee (Netherlands) by winning both heats of the quarter-finals.
Varnish was unable to reach the last four, losing both heats to Vogel, but recovering to take an encouraging fifth as she continued her recovery from injury.
And in a repeat of February’s World Championship final, James was also unable to see off the hugely impressive German, who showed superb acceleration to win in straight rounds.
World champion Jason Kenny surprisingly missed out on a keirin medal however, despite setting the pace in qualifying.
In the final, Kenny found himself at the back of the group on the final lap, having to come around the outside as a result and he was unable to recover the ground as he finished fourth.
Owain Doull also finished fourth in the points race final, while Jonathan Dibben claimed fifth in the omnium as the British riders continued their preparations for next year’s World Championships.
The final day of the first UCI Track World Cup event of the season takes place tomorrow. Check back for the report.
Picture used with kind permission of SWpixcyclingphotos.com