The Belgian duo of Jolien D'hoore and Lotte Kopecky took top honours Saturday in the first-ever women's Madison at the UCI Track World Championships. D'hoore and Kopecky, who also won the first-ever women's Madison at the European Championships last year, finished the 120-lap (30km) event with a total of 44 points, 10 points more than Great Britain's Emily Nelson and Elinor Barker. Amy Cure and Alex Manly fought their way back for bronze, another nine points down, after crashing heavily twice.
"We are very happy and honoured to be the first-ever World Champions in the women's Madison," D’hoore said afterward. "Our race went almost perfectly. We timed our changes at the right times and had the speed to take enough points in each sprint."
The British duo took an early lead after winning the first of 12 sprints, but D'hoore and Kopecky moved ahead after the fourth sprint, and then never looked back again. Barker made a move in the closing laps, but Kopecky and D’hoore countered the move immediately. D’hoore then surged ahead as she took the final bell, riding the final lap solo to take the 10 points on the line and cement the Belgian victory.
“It still feels like a dream to us,” D’hoore said on the trackside.
The race turned out to be more of a nightmare for Cure and Manly, who came into the event as favourites after winning the recent World Cup in Los Angeles. After crashing hard twice during the race, however, it took a gritty battle to fight back for the bronze.
“It was a really tough race," Cure said. "We were unlucky to have two crashes, but we fought pretty hard to bring it back and never gave up. After the second crash, I did think for a minute that we would be out of the medals. But we just kept at it. We were still in it with a couple of sprints remaining, and I was happy we were able to hold on for that medal. Couldn’t be happier to finish on the podium."
Manly, a 21-year-old making her first appearance at Track Worlds, adds this bronze to the one she picked up earlier in the week in the team pursuit.
“I think I went into shock after the race,” said Manly, who required medical attention after her two crashes. “At first I was disappointed with the bronze, but now it has sunk in I am really happy and proud of our effort. Amy was so strong out there, and we were able to hold for the bronze medal. To be able to be on the podium at the first-ever women’s Madison is really special, so to make it with Amy, it is really nice."
Despite missing out on the win, the runner-up result was a sign of things to come for the British duo of Nelson, 20, and Barker, 22, each of whom only recently picked up the event.
"I was nervous because we'd only ridden one each before," Barker said. "We didn't know what to expect. I'm not surprised at all by the Belgians winning - they are a Madison nation, so hats off to them, they were impressive."
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