At the second round of the World Cup in Manchester, Valente, 22, went head-to-head against home favourite and world champion Katie Archibald (Great Britain) and Denmark’s Amalie Dideriksen. In a nail-biting finale, it was Valente who came out on top, wining with 139 points to Archibald’s 134. Dideriksen was forced to settle for bronze.
“It’s an incredible result and it certainly exceeded by my expectations,” Valente told Cyclingnews ahead of an early flight home to the US on Sunday morning.
“I looked at how I was riding each race over the last two weekends, and tried to take as much information as possible from each situation. Going home with a silver and a gold is really incredible.”
Valente has a strong background in track racing and has come through the ranks at USA Cycling, picking up medals at national and world championship level. She was also part of the women’s team pursuit squad that won silver at the Rio Olympics in 2016. However, London represented a new chapter in her blossoming career, and marked her first individual world cup win.
“It’s a little bit of a turning point, having done so much team pursuit in the last couple of years, but I’m excited to see how it goes looking forward. The Olympics are always the long term goal, and I have great teammates in the pursuit and that’s still a priority.”
After taking silver in Poland earlier this month Valente grew in confidence. She won the first two events in the Omnium in London – the scratch race and the tempo race – but Archibald hit back by beating the American into second place in the elimination race. The points race proved to be a real battle, with Archibald taking the first sprint before Valente responding with a round of her own. Archibald won the two next sprints but Valente dug in and picked off four points in the final sprint to seal gold.
“I had a pretty good scratch and tempo but it was going back and forth. I had a bit of a lead but then it came down. Every sprint counted and we were fighting it out. That it came down the last event, right at the end, that’s so exciting for the fans. It’s a little bit nerve racking for the riders and you’re using every last ounce that you have. I really only knew I’d won about half a lap after the final sprint.
“It’s incredible to race in the UK. The fans are intelligent and they’re motivated to cheer. Obviously they’re cheering for Katie and she has the world champion stripes, but it makes for hard racing but good racing all around.”
Valente now returns to Colorado, where she will work under the guidance of Gary Sutton, who joined USA Cycling from Cycling Australia as head track endurance coach in August.
“There’s been some changes in terms of staffing and the running of programmes. Gary Sutton is new and he just moved to Colorado. I’m excited to work with him going forward.”
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