17 March 2019
Tandem stars revel in gold as GB take Para-cycling Track World Championships medal tally to 20
Sophie Thornhill and Helen Scott completed the tandem double as GB enjoyed a golden finale to the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships.
The two had already defended their kilo title in Apeldoorn but added another rainbow jersey to their ever-growing collection, taking sprint honours on the final day on the boards.
They were not the only British winners as Neil Fachie and Matt Rotherham led out a national one-two in the men’s equivalent race, overcoming teammates James Ball and Pete Mitchell.
Silver was no bad consolation for Ball and Mitchell however while Will Bjergfelt and the team sprint squad added more medals to the collection.
Thornhill and Scott led the way in the tandem sprint
As double Paralympic medallists and current Commonwealth champions in the discipline, Thornhill and Scott were always expected to deliver on the global stage.
And as they qualified fastest with the second quickest time they have delivered as a pairing in the sprint, that expectation was manifesting itself into reality in the Netherlands.
The pair eased through each round to reach the final where Jessica Gallagher and Madison Janssen stood in the way of gold, comfortably overcoming the Australians to take top step on the podium once more.
“These championships have been amazing – we’ve put in some really solid rides and come away with some amazing performances,” said Thornhill.
Fachie and Rotherham prevailed in the British head-to-head
Fachie and Rotherham were also able to don the rainbow jersey – though their sprint victory came in rather more dramatic circumstances.
After besting Ball and Mitchell in the first sprint, the two just needed one more to be crowned world champions.
But their bid for the title was temporarily thwarted as they fell on the final bend, though the significant lead they held over their compatriots meant the commissaires awarded them the win as opposed to restarting the race.
Both were helped from the track after sporting visible injuries, though victory allowed Fachie and Rotherham to get one back on Ball and Mitchell, who had pipped them earlier in the week.
Up until the crash, things went perfectly – exactly to plan – we were strong and I’m really proud of the way we bounced back.
“We were hungry. We were really disappointed to lose our kilo title to James and Pete yesterday – fair play to them for winning it, but we wanted to win badly, and we wanted to prove that we can still be the best in the world,” said Fachie.
While the tandem duos are experienced pros when it comes to winning medals, Bjergfelt was celebrating his very first at world level after bagging silver in the C5 scratch race.
Taking a lap alongside eventual winner Alistair Donohue of Australia proved the defining moment, outsprinting Dutchman Daniel Abraham Gebru in order to take silver home from the Netherlands.
Jon Gildea finished eighth in the same race to win the C5 omnium, a trial event at these Championships.
There was a silver lining for Cundy, Butterworth and Rolfe in the team sprint
Silver also came the way of Jody Cundy, Jon-Allan Butterworth and Louis Rolfe, finishing second to China in the team sprint.
The British trio – featuring a seven-time Paralympic gold medallist in Cundy – had qualified fastest but were just pipped to the top of the podium by 0.2 seconds.
That brought the curtain down on an impressive World Championships for the British team, taking their tally to a record 20 medals - with Dame Sarah Storey claiming three of them on the boards of Apeldoorn.
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