Cycling World Cup: Jo Rowsell rips up race plan in pursuit of second gold
Startling newcomer Katie Archibald announces her potential with bronze
the manchester velodrome
Sunday 03 November 2013
Two Britons clambered on to the podium after the women's individual pursuit here last night. On the highest step was Jo Rowsell, collecting her second gold medal of this World Cup. On the lowest was Katie Archibald, collecting the second medal of her first World Cup.
From next week the two women will be training together here in Manchester as Archibald becomes the latest addition to British Cycling's ranks. She will join the academy programme having been recruited after a remarkably rapid and unexpected rise to prominence – the 20-year-old only took up cycling three years ago to earn pocket money racing at the Highland Games. She has quickly earned admirers in the British set-up. Last night she was racing in the colours of Scotland but Chris Newton, Britain's women's coach, looked after her for the bronze medal ride off against the Pole, Eugenia Bujak.
Newton was startled by Rowsell a few minutes later when she tore out of the starting gate at breakneck speed in the gold medal ride against Rebecca Wiasak of Australia. The pre-race plan was ripped up but Rowsell had plenty of frustrations to work out after a year dogged by injury and illness. "I had a plan to ride to and pretty much completely ignored it," said Rowsell. "Chris walks the line [beside the track]. The idea is that he is on the line if you are at pace and when I saw where he was, I thought, 'oh dear I'm going too fast'."
The 24-year-old Londoner is a treble world champion and an Olympic champion so she knows how to finish. She led from the start to wrap up the perfect weekend for the female pursuiters, twice lowering the world record on Friday before last night's personal success.
"It is better than I could have ever hoped for. I missed the world championships on the track last season to focus on my road racing – I won the national title and after that everything went wrong, it was just disaster after disaster. To come here and win two gold medals, I'm absolutely over the moon. I've got a lot more to come this track season."
While Rowsell took gold, it is Archibald's achievement that was the story of the night, not least because in an environment that is so carefully planned she has darted out of far left-field. "It was an absolutely phenomenal ride," said Rowsell.
Archibald stuck resolutely to her plan despite Bujak opening up a four-second lead at one point. "It was a case of not panicking," she said. "My plan was to preferably be down on schedule rather than up so I could squeeze through it. Luckily I didn't have the physical capacity to panic so I rode it out and kept my aerodynamic fingers crossed."
Archibald won silver in the scratch race on Friday and will go again today in the 20km points race. The pink-haired Glaswegian spent most of her teenage years swimming but began the switch to cycling after her father, a Highland Games fell runner, spotted the cycling events at the Games and thought they might suit his daughter.
Raced on grass tracks, she was still competing around the Highlands in 2011. It brought the required boost to her pocket money – with a best haul of £70 – and looks likely to lead to a full-time career where sport can come first. She missed last year's national championships because she worked in a French vineyard.
She will move to Manchester this week and begin her bid to break into the team pursuit squad. She rode with them at the European Championships last month, helping them to gold, before making her World Cup debut here back in Scottish colours. Whether she will compete in another this season remains to be seen. "Not with the Scotland team," she said. "It's about £60 in petrol to get here but hundreds to get out to Mexico. I'm hopeful to try and get chosen for the GB squad to go out there but I haven't heard anything yet."
It was a less successful evening for two of Britain's leading lights. Jason Kenny finished off the pace in the keirin, coming home fourth behind France's François Pervis, while Becky James was beaten in the semi-finals of the individual sprint by the German Kristina Vogel. But she did beat Anna Meares for the bronze.
Women's omnium Laura Trott is the favourite of the home crowd and, as Olympic champion, the favourite on the track.
Women's points race Wales's Elinor Barker looks for a second gold of the weekend.
Women's keirin Becky James won the world title and has been racing the event in its Japanese homeland over the summer.
Men's sprint Jason Kenny is the Olympic champion but only reached the last eight in this year's worlds.
Men's scratch race Owain Doull, another promising Welsh rider, goes for his second gold of the meet.
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