Little known Colombian rider Edwin Ávila Alcibiades waged a stunning upset of dual points race world champion Cameron Meyer in the men's points race world championship, using a blazing turn of speed to escape and lap the field before using tactical nuance far beyond his experience to fend off any challenge from the field.
The 21-year-old, who started racing just six years ago, became the pride of his country as he stood atop the podium to accept the rainbow jersey.
Ávila is the first Colombian man to win a senior world championship on the track in 40 years; his country's most recent victory was from female rider Maria Luisa Calle in the scratch race five years ago in Bordeaux.
As his national anthem played, his team staff sang along loudly (and in tune) as he beamed from atop the dais.
"I didn't realize just how important the world title is to my country and to the Latin American people," Ávila said as the moment began to sink in. "It's a victory for the entire continent."
The Colombian launched his race-winning move just under 70 laps into the 160-lap race, countering off a large breakaway containing Meyer and Dutch rider Peter Schep.
With an out-of-the-saddle attack from the bunch, Avila blasted away from the field as the favourites took too long to react. One lap later, the Colombian had five more points thanks to sprint number seven and was back in the bunch with 86 laps to go, leading with 25 well-earned points.
Despite the best efforts from Schep and Meyer to get another breakaway going, no other rider could escape the clutches of the peloton and overtake the punchy Avila.
Meyer was philosophical at the loss, saying he expected to be marked going into the race coming in as defending dual champion, but that he didn't have the legs to break the field when he needed to.
"The Colombian rode an excellent race and made the right move at the right time," Meyer said.
"It was a bit of a different field than I'm used to; a lot of the riders that I usually race are in the omnium now, and people like [Germany's Roger] Kluge aren't here. There are a few new riders here and they'll always look to the experienced riders to follow. In the end I just didn't have the legs to overcome that."
While Meyer was able to challenge Ávila by gaining 18 points worth of sprint bonuses, trailing by just five when there were four sprints remaining, his hopes were fairly well dashed when he entered into a promising breakaway with Dutch rider Peter Schep, Ukraine's Sergiy Lagkuti, Gerardo Luis Fernandez (Argentina) and Luis Sepulveda (Chile), only to have Ávila bridge half a lap across, nullifying the move.
Ávila confirmed later that he received a little help at this critical moment from Sepulveda and didn't realize the importance, but the Australian camp was visibly annoyed with the tactic.
By the time the podium ceremony rolled around, Meyer had accepted his fate and the collusion of the Latin Americans. "When you're in a gold medal position, you're going to look for any opportunity for anyone to help you. At the end of the day he's the only one that takes home the jersey," said Meyer.
"He rode a super race, and when he had the lead I'm sure it lifted him to another level to shut guys like me and Peter Schep down. I'm still happy with silver."
Indeed, the race favourites tried again to break Ávila's points tally by escaping 12 laps later, but once more the Colombian was attentive and quick, not only making the juncture but following it up with the third to last sprint win, effectively sealing his overall win.
That left the battle for bronze, and coming into the closing laps it was Russian Alexander Khatuntsev who had the third position, but by a slim one point over Frenchman Morgan Kneisky.
Kneisky was aggressive all race, making the first attack to claim points in the first sprint, and then getting away to also win sprint number five and netting top marks in sprint number nine. With three laps to go in the race, the Frenchman knew he had to give everything to gain the advantage he needed to get on top of the Russian and take home the bronze.
"The point for the bronze was really close - there were three riders within one point, and I needed to win the last sprint. I had to give everything to make sure to win the medal," Kneisky told Cyclingnews.
"It's a special track here, and it's especially hard on a long race. I'm not so good going away solo like the Colombian did." When his escape attempts failed, he had to change tactics, Kneisky said, going for points here and there in the sprints until the finale."
The race was especially difficult on hometown favourite Peter Schep, a former points race world champion who had high expectations for pleasing the Dutch fans.
"At my home race it's difficult not to make a difference. I'm happy with the race itself, but not the result," he told Cyclingnews. "I'm not a sprinter, so I have to be aggressive.
"It might have been a once in a lifetime opportunity for [Ávila]. With Cameron Meyer and Kneisky, we're three of the favourites before the race, and it's easier to make an attack if you're not a favourite. [Ávila] was very quick, and absolutely strong in the sprints, so he deserved it."
|1||Avila Edwin Alcibiades (Colombia)||33||pts|
|2||Cameron Meyer (Australia)||25|
|3||Morgan Kneisky (France)||23|
|4||Alexander Khatuntsev (Russian Federation)||20|
|5||Milan Kadlec (Czech Republic)||17|
|6||Peter Schep (Netherlands)||13|
|7||Gerardo Luis Fernandez (Argentina)||8|
|8||Silvan Dillier (Switzerland)||8|
|9||Polychronis Tzortzakis (Greece)||7|
|10||Ki Ho Choi (Hong Kong, China)||6|
|11||Sergiy Lagkuti (Ukraine)||6|
|12||Berik Kupeshov (Kazakhstan)||5|
|13||Omar Bertazzo (Italy)||4|
|14||Roman Dronin (Uzbekistan)||3|
|15||Franz Schiewer (Germany)||2|
|16||Ingmar De Poortere (Belgium)||2|
|17||Luis Fernando Sepulveda (Chile)||1|
|DNF||Thomas Scully (New Zealand)|
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