Hong Kong: Elinor Barker ensured a golden send-off for embattled Britain with a gripping victory in the women’s points race on Sunday, the last day of the Track Cycling World Championships.
Barker looked like she would have to settle for her third silver medal in Hong Kong before she pipped America’s eight-time world champion Sarah Hammer with a strong finish.
The 22-year-old crucially picked up 20 points for gaining a lap with just four of the 100 laps to go, winning the first individual world title of her career.
It provided a welcome boost for Britain, who have been under fire over claims of sexism and bullying, while a new-look team has dropped off the pace set at last year’s Olympics.
“I’m incredibly happy, so so happy,” said Barker, who had already placed second in the scratch race and madison and who won Britain’s second gold of the competition.
“I had two silvers this week and until the last (leg) it looked like it was going to be another silver.
“So I was already a little bit heartbroken and I’m just so happy and so relieved that I got a gold.”
The competition didn’t end happily for Hong Kong’s former Olympic bronze-medallist Sarah Lee, who bombed out of the women’s keirin in spectacular style.
Lee finished fifth in her second-round heat but not before, in her haste to place among the leaders, she sent South Korea’s Lee Hye-Jin crashing on the last lap.
German great Kristina Vogel won the keirin, picking up her ninth world title and her second in Hong Kong after the women’s sprint.
And France’s Francois Pervis won the men’s 1km time-trial with a victory over his fellow countryman Quentin Lagargue and Czech rider Tomas Babek, who finished in a rare dead heat.
Last-up Pervis clocked 1min 0.714sec to win by 0.334sec over Lafargue and Babek, who both timed 1:01.048 to share silver.
Next year’s Track Cycling World Championships will be staged in the Netherlands’ Apeldoorn from February 28 to March 4, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announced.
The sport’s governing body made the announcement on the last day of the 2017 championships in Hong Kong, only the second time the event has been held in Asia. The 2018 track championships marks the return of the competition to the 5,000-seat Apeldoorn velodrome, which also hosted it in 2011.