3 February 2020
Van Gass at the double as GB break record
Six medals on the final day of competition wrapped up Great Britain’s most successful Para-cycling Track World Championships as Jaco van Gass once again starred with a pair of golds in Canada.
There was gold also for tandem sprint duos James Ball and Lewis Stewart, and Sophie Thornhill and Helen Scott, while Neil Fachie and Matt Rotherham in the men’s discipline, and Louis Rolfe, Jon-Allan Butterworth and Jody Cundy in the team sprint won silvers to take GB’s overall medal tally to 21.
After claiming his maiden rainbow jersey on Friday, van Gass took MC3 scratch and omnium titles on Sunday, further staking his claim for a ticket to Tokyo and this summer’s Paralympic Games.
With an eight-point advantage over nearest rival Eduardo Santas Asensio in the omnium standings heading into the final race, the 33-year-old took a lap on the field to force the issue, claiming the scratch gold that secured his omnium title for a result that left him struggling to comprehend his achievements.
“It’s been so far beyond anything I ever expected,” he said.
“I’m a bit speechless about walking away with three jerseys – from working constantly for one, to have three in one championship is more than a dream.”
But van Gass wasn’t finished there, as he joined Kadeena Cox and Jody Cundy in the team sprint to qualify GB for the gold medal final.
There he and Cox were replaced by Rolfe and Butterworth, with the new-look trio forced to settle for silver only after their Chinese opponents had set a new world-record time of 48.096s.
In the men’s tandem sprint final Ball and Stewart led a British one-two as they overturned a deficit in qualifying to best Fachie and Rotherham.
And though the duo wrapped up gold in the quickest possible time, their winning margin of 0.003s in the second race underlined just how close a contest it proved.
Afterwards, 28-year-old Ball said: “We didn’t know what we could come here and do as we’ve not been together long, but now is a perfect time to lay down a marker.
“What better way to start the year?”
A stellar ride from Thornhill and Scott ensured that it would be a British double in the tandem races as they wrapped up victory in the women’s equivalent.
The duo qualified fastest in 10.776s, before downing the Belgian duo of Griet Hoet and Anneleen Monsieur to crown what was an unbeaten day, retaining their title for the third year on the spin.
Elsewhere, Will Bjergfelt was fourth in the MC5 scratch race, with Jon Gildea coming home in seventh, the latter securing a fourth-place finish in the omnium as a result.
GB’s tally of 21 medals in Canada were made up of 11 gold, eight silver and two bronze, with Dame Sarah Storey and van Gass leading the way with three golds apiece, and Cundy also sealing a 12th successive kilo world title.
Image credit: SWpix
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