HONG KONG — Katie Archibald hailed a “new dawn” for controversy-plagued Britain as she broke their gold medal drought and interrupted a run of Australian successes at the Track Cycling World Championships Friday.
The pink-haired Olympic team pursuit champion claimed her country’s first title in Hong Kong, and her first individual world gold, with a thrilling victory in the women’s omnium.
It didn’t stop Australia roaring clear on the medals table on day three as Cameron Meyer brilliantly won the men’s points race and Jordan Kerby triumphed in the individual pursuit.
Britain dominated last year’s Olympics but British cycling has been hit by explosive claims of sexism and bullying which prompted an independent review.
A new-look team has also failed to ignite in Hong Kong, but Archibald said her win showed the riders were focused on the build-up to the next Olympics, despite the swirling controversy.
“It kind of echoes the same sentiment that we’ve all felt. The riders have been focused on performance around the politics of the review and things,” Archibald said.
“It’s a mark of a new dawn for British cycling now. I’m really looking forward to the next four years.”
Archibald’s title was hard-won as she went into the points race, the climax of the four-event omnium, neck-and-neck with Australia’s Amy Cure, and wasn’t assured of gold until the final sprint.
“I went out with fatigue… I didn’t ride a brilliant race, but I was just knackered,” she said.
“I was very close to done for. I thought I wasn’t going to finish at one point. I just needed to keep grinding and recover for the sprints. It came off in the end.”
Behind the leaders, Canada’s Stephanie Roorda went down heavily in a multi-bike pile-up and was led away in a neck brace and a makeshift sling.
And the home crowd came alive when Hong Kong’s Sarah Lee took bronze in the women’s sprint, where gold went to Germany’s Olympic champion Kristina Vogel.
Earlier, Meyer obliterated the field to win his fourth points race world title, a day after leading Australia to men’s team pursuit gold.
Meyer, 29, was in front from nearly halfway in the grueling, 160-lap race, finishing with 76 points, ahead of Belgian Kenny De Ketele and Poland’s Wojciech Pszczolarski, who both had 40.
It was an eighth world title for the 2009, 2010 and 2012 points-race champion, who has returned to the track after a spell in road racing.
“It’s been a fantastic championship for us. We’ve started really well and hopefully there’s more to come in the next few days,” Meyer said.
Kerby won the men’s individual pursuit despite the distraction of a misfiring starting pistol, which forced the race to be called off and restarted.
“I was very scattered when that happened. I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on. I heard the gun go twice,” said Kerby. “I had to collect my thoughts again.”
The 24-year-old eventually clocked 4min 17.068sec to win by more than four seconds from defending champion Filippo Ganna of Italy and claim his first world title.
Australia also won silver through Samantha Morton in the women’s pursuit, and bronze through Cure in the omnium and Kendall O’Brien in the men’s pursuit.
With two days to go, Australia have eight medals overall and lead the table with three golds ahead of a group of eight countries with one victory apiece. — AFP