Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com - 09/02/2023 - Cycling - 2023 UEC Track Elite European Championships - Tissot Velodrome, Grenchen, Switzerland - Katie Archibald, Neah Evans, Josie Knight, Elinor Barker and Anna Morris of Great Britain win Gold in the Women’s Team Pursuit final.

Women’s Team Pursuit Gold for Great Britain on day two of European Championships

The Great Britain Cycling Team’s team pursuiters took the plaudits on day two of the UEC Track Elite European Championships, with gold for the women and silver for the men in Grenchen, Switzerland.

Elinor Barker and Joe Truman added to what was another strong night for the team, only narrowly missing out on podium finishes in the women’s elimination and men’s kilo on their returns to major competition.

Women’s team pursuit

After qualifying fastest in a time of 4:11.594 on Wednesday afternoon, the women’s team pursuit team returned to the boards for a first round ride against the reigning Olympic champions Germany.

Elinor Barker replaced Anna Morris in the line-up, in what is her first major competition since the birth of her son last year, and the British quartet put in a dominant performance to overcome their opponents by a margin of more than four seconds.

This earned them a gold medal ride against Italy, who denied them of gold in October’s world championships.

With Morris back to replace Barker, the Great Britain Cycling Team quartet led throughout the final, and while Morris and Josie Knight had to battle hard to hold Archibald’s wheel in the final stages, they took the European title by just over two seconds.

Afterwards, Neah Evans said: ““We’ve come together with some good form and came away with the title this time, so we’re really pleased with the result and it’s a sign of things to come. We’ve got El back in the squad, we’re doing a bit more with Anna now, and it’s really exciting for the future.”

Knight added: ““This is the first event that counts towards Olympic qualification and to come out on top is huge. We’ve come second a lot – I’ve been in a lot of major finals and come second, so in those last few laps I was saying please come on, I just want to win something! When we get home from this we’ve got four days before most of us travel to Jakarta and I’m just so excited to be able to wear a European champs’ jersey.”

Men’s team pursuit

The men’s team pursuit team of Dan Bigham, Charlie Tanfield, Ethan Vernon and Ollie Wood qualified second fastest behind Italy Wednesday afternoon, before prevailing over Denmark in round one with a time of 3:48.504 – two seconds quicker than their qualifying time, and also briefly a track record.

Italy then broke that track record in the final first round heat with a time of 3:48.333 to set up a repeat of the 2022 world championships final for gold.

Italy took command in the early stages, before confusion in their ranks looked to have opened the door for the British quartet to force their way back into contention. However a huge turn on the front from Filippo Ganna steadied the ship, and yet another track record time of 3:47.667 was enough to secure gold for Italy.

Afterwards, Bigham said: “It’s been really close with the Italians in the past 12 months or so. I work with Ethan and work with Filippo, and see them week in week out on camps or at races, so it’s a nice rivalry building for sure.

“I’m really looking forward to the world champs. Being a home world champs I think we can do something pretty special, and the Paris Olympics draw closer, so with a bit of luck we can hopefully take it down to the wire there and be in contention for the Olympic gold.”

Women’s elimination race

After riding the first round of the team pursuit earlier in the day, Barker was back in action for the women’s elimination race.

She rode confidently throughout and was very much in contention with just four riders left in the race, however on the final sprint before the podium places she was judged to have been on the blue band and relegated, leaving her with fourth place.

Reflecting on her return to the track, Barker said: “I’ve really, really enjoyed it. It’s my first track race back since having a baby so to get back and immediately be competitive again is the best I could really hope for, and then to win [the team pursuit] – I can’t really complain, can I?”

Men’s kilo

After picking up silver in the team sprint on day one, Joe Truman was straight back in action and qualified third fastest in the men’s kilo, with the top eight riders progressing to the evening’s final.

Truman looked all set to take a well-deserved podium in his first major event back from injury, until a wobble on the first bend of his final lap halted his momentum and saw him take second place on the leaderboard with two riders to go. Spain’s Alejandro Martinez Chorro and eventual winner Jeffrey Hoogland then went quicker than Truman, leaving him just outside of the medals.

Men’s points race

Will Perrett finished in seventh place in a frantic points race. A confident start saw him pick up points in the third, fourth and fifth sprint, before gaining a lap on the field to take the lead.

After losing a lap he then found himself out but still in touching distance of the medal places, and despite gaining a second lap of the race with ten laps remaining, lap gains from others in the pack meant he was unable to bridge the gap to third place, finishing on 31 points.

Women’s sprint

Team sprint silver medallists Sophie Capewell and Emma Finucane qualified third and sixth fastest respectively in the women’s sprint, earning them both an automatic spot in the 1/8 finals.

Two more dominant performances then saw them progress to the evening’s quarter finals – where the teammates met each other for a best-of-three legs battle.

Capewell led from the front to take the first convincingly, before a photo finish confirmed her as the narrow victor in the second, setting up a semi-final against Germany’s Lea Sophie Friedrich on Friday evening.

Further European champions will be crowned today in the men’s scratch race, men’s individual pursuit and women’s omnium.

Header image: Katie Archibald, Neah Evans, Josie Knight, Elinor Barker and Anna Morris of Great Britain win Gold in the Women’s Team Pursuit final at the 2023 UEC Track Elite European Championships, Tissot Velodrome, Grenchen, Switzerland.

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