GLASGOW (Reuters) – Britain’s production line of remarkable cycling talent appears to have delivered another diamond after teenager Ethan Hayter won the omnium title in brilliant fashion in the European Championship track events on Saturday.
The 19-year-old won the four-event, day-long test devised to find the top track all-rounder, roaring from fifth place going into the final discipline, the 25km points race, to the gold-medal position, much to the delight of the home crowd.
“I can’t believe it to be honest,” said the Londoner, who beat Italy’s Olympic omnium champion Elia Viviani in the process of taking his first senior gold medal just 24 hours after winning bronze in the team pursuit.
“I messed up the scratch race at the start of the day but had good enough legs to come second,” added Hayter, who performed solidly over the first three races — the scratch, tempo and elimination — to lie six points off the lead.
He then rode a tactically astute points race to snatch an early lap and sprinted well to finish on 133 points, 20 clear of Viviani.
“Going into the race, I was in quite a good space and had a really good race and great legs,” he said.
Things are certainly moving fast for Hayter.
“I’ve only been racing these elite races for a year. This time last year I was at the under-23s where it was just parents watching, not a crowd like this,” laughed the latest track prospect to be signed up as a trainee by Tour de France-dominating Team Sky.
Geraint Thomas, who was crowned as Sky’s latest Tour de France winner last Sunday, also cut his teeth in track cycling before making an impact on the roads.
The home crowd had been expecting success to come on Saturday from their local heroine Katie Archibald at the velodrome named after Scottish cycling’s greatest luminary, Chris Hoy.
Yet Archibald, part of the British quartet that won the team pursuit on Friday, was beaten by 2.698 seconds in the final of the 3,000 metres individual pursuit by Germany’s former world time trial gold medallist Lisa Brennauer, ending the Scot’s reign as four-time champion.
Italian Maria Confalonieri took gold in the 25km points race, with two points eked out in the final sprint earning her overall victory by a mere point from Ina Savenka, of Belarus.
The one-kilometre time trial saw a victory for world keirin champion Matthijs Buchli, the third Dutch victory after two days of the programme to keep their team on top of the cycling medal standings.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband)