GLASGOW (Reuters) – Daria Shmeleva and Kirsten Wild bolstered their reputations as two of cycling’s great sprinters as they added to their golden palmares at the European Championships track programme on Monday.
Russian Shmeleva completed a remarkable sprint treble by flying to victory in the 500 metres time trial, adding the two-lap title to her individual and team sprint crowns.
The flying Dutchwoman Wild, already champion in the 10km scratch race on Friday, added the omnium title, demonstrating her sprint prowess in the four-discipline event throughout the day.
Twelve years may separate the pair in age but both the 23-year-old Shmeleva and the veteran Wild, with seven world titles between them, share a huge competitive drive and the ruthless streak to be quickest on the draw.
Shmeleva had enjoyed eyeballing opponents in the head-to-head duels at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome but this time, the only opposition was the clock as she regained the time trial title she last won two years ago in Yvelines, France.
Last to ride, she clocked 33.285 seconds as the only woman to average over 54km per hour, beating the mark of 53.582 set by Ukraine’s Olena Starikova.
“I cannot say that I believe it,” said the Muscovite Shmeleva. “I was hoping to be completely satisfied with my results in this championships – and at the moment I am.”
Cutting a striking figure as she rode in odd socks, one bright green and one jet black, Shmeleva was asked to explain her attire. “It is to show that I am a bit extraordinary,” she smiled.
Wild has seen an extraordinary time in her trip to Britain, too, having followed up her win in the RideLondon Classique, the world’s most lucrative women’s professional road race, with her double gold.
Her strength lies in still being able to be incredibly swift at the end of an endurance test and so it proved in the omnium’s concluding 20km points race.
Going head-to-head with Britain’s Katie Archibald, the Dutchwoman, who also won the omnium’s scratch race, dominated their intermediary sprints, winning three key ones.
On a fine night for Dutch speedsters, double world champion Jeffrey Hoogland, already champion in the team sprint, won both races of his individual sprint final against Germany’s Stefan Boeticcher.
In the early session, an explosive combination of youthful verve and experienced track nous enabled 21-year-old Robbe Ghys and 33-year-old Kenny De Ketele to ride to victory for Belgium in the 200-lap Madison event.
De Ketele, a veteran of one of cycling’s most demanding tests of endurance and tactical expertise for two-rider teams over 50 kms, added a third European track gold to the Madison world title he won six years ago in Melbourne.
De Ketele had won silver in Sunday’s points race but this was the first major title for his young partner Ghys after the pair largely controlled the race after gaining an early lap over the field when attacking with silver medallists Germany.
They then kept the German world championship-winning pair of Roger Kluge and Theo Reinhardt at bay, gathering sprint points consistently over the second half of the race to total 60 points to the Germans’ 49.
Ghys made it clear who masterminded the victory at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome. “I was a bit shaky about the start, didn’t know about how the race would go, but with a rider as Kenny by my side is just unbelievable,” he said.
“He said, ‘Just go and follow, do this and do that – just ride.’ It feels quite amazing. It’s my best performance in my career.”
The British duo of Ethan Hayter, the newly-crowned European omnium champion, and Ollie Wood launched a late attack that brought them wins in the final two sprints and the bronze medal with a total of 38 points.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Christian Radnedge, Richard Balmforth)