Super Sarah Storey leads procession of victories for Britain
Disley’s golden girl Sarah Storey added to her array of medals by leading a procession of British victories on day three of the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships.
Britain’s most successful female Paralympian won track world titles 14 (pursuit) and 15 (scratch race), while teammates Sophie Thornhill and Helen Scott, and James Ball and Pete Mitchell, won gold in the tandem kilo events at Apeldoorn in ther Netherlands.
Storey was completely dominant in the WC5 pursuit, recording a time of 3.37.497 in the qualification round. She then faced the same opponent, Poland’s Anna Harkowska, in the final, and was simply too strong, making the catch midway through the 3km race.
Afterwards, Storey said: “I was excited to see how quick I could go back in competition. I raced here four years ago and did a 3.39, so I was pleased to post a 3.37.
“I felt really good in the start gate ahead of the final. I wanted to see if I could catch her and how quickly that could happen.
“I’m in a positive frame of mind looking ahead to the Paralympic Games in Tokyo next year. There’s a lot more depth in the C5 category, so I’m delighted to still be at the top of that field.
“But there are more and more riders coming in, which makes the fight for places hard. I’m excited to keep pushing forward though. There will be no complacency from me. I’m going to keep working hard.”
Britain’s all-conquering women’s tandem sprint duo of Thornhill and Scott also claimed rainbow jerseys. Up last in the kilo event, the world, Commonwealth and Paralympic champions retained their title with a time of 1.05.612.
Thornhill said: “We’re chuffed to bits. That was the third fastest we’ve ever gone, and you can’t complain with that. It’s great to do it at a world championships and so close to Tokyo as well.”
There was a British one-two in the equivalent men’s event, which saw a dramatic finish. Scheduled to complete their effort third from last, Ball and Mitchell suffered a mechanical coming out of the start gate, meaning that teammates and defending champions Neil Fachie and Matt Rotherham registered their time first -- 1.00.190 to put them into the lead.
However, Ball and Mitchell pipped their teammates to gold, by recording 1.00.060. Ball said: “Since the Commonwealth Games, we’ve just progressed and progressed, and I’m looking forward now to seeing what else we can do.”
Storey then returned to the track for the day’s final event – the WC5 scratch race – and once again triumphed. She gained two laps on the field, the second of which was the result of working together with Lane-Wright, who claimed silver. The victory also secured Storey’s success in the overall omnium, which was a test event at these championships.
George Peasgood secured an impressive medal on his track world championships debut, finishing second to reigning world and Paralympic champion Jozef Metelka in the MC4 pursuit. Peasgood set a time of 4.41.409 in qualifying before being caught by the Slovakian para-cycling legend in the final.
There were several near misses for Britain in the other pursuit events. Both Jon Gildea (who set a qualification time of 4:33.531 in the MC5 category) and Crystal Lane-Wright (3:48.025 in WC5) lost out in their respective bronze medal ride-offs, while Will Bjergfelt (also MC5) recorded the fifth fastest time of 4:35.956. Blaine Hunt,– who claimed a silver in his favoured kilo last Thursday, finished 14th in the same event, in 5.00.711.
Katie Toft successfully negotiated the WC1-2 scratch race and, as the event’s only C1 entrant, took home her second rainbow jersey of the week. She returned to the podium as winner of the category’s omnium test event.
Matthew Robertson, who broke the world record for the flying 200m, crashed early on in the MC2 scratch, and despite initially continuing, he was unable to complete the race.