By Martyn Herman
BERLIN (Reuters) – Dutchwoman Kirsten Wild claimed an eighth world title in an incident-packed madison race and American Chloe Dygert made it a magnificent seven as she shattered her own world record in the individual pursuit at the world track championships on Saturday.
Germany’s women’s sprint squad gathered more gold too with Lea Friedrich snatching the 500m time trial.
Veteran Wild surrendered her omnium title on Friday after being penalized for causing a pile-up that floored Britain’s golden girl Laura Kenny, but combined superbly with Amy Pieters in the head-spinning 30km relay style event.
Wild and Pieters, who won the title last year, avoided several crashes in the race, one of which saw Britain’s Neah Evans take down two American riders.
With the women’s madison debuting at the Tokyo Olympics this year, the wily Dutch duo marked themselves out as favorites, working in harmony in a superb demonstration of bike handling, gathering points in the sprints every 10 laps.
France counter-attack but ran out of steam as the Dutch avoided any mishaps to win by a 12-point margin.
Italy took the bronze medal.
Wild, 37, who also triumphed in the scratch race here, has never won an Olympic medal despite a glittering track career but the Tokyo madison represents a chance to fill that blank.
RED HOT DYGERT
Dygert will be a red-hot tip for Tokyo gold too, either on the track or road where she also excels.
She sliced three seconds off her own mark in the qualifying round of the 3km pursuit, no longer an Olympic discipline, then rocketed around in 3:16.937 to lower it again in the final. Germany’s Lisa Brennauer never stood a chance.
Incredibly, the 23-year-old from Indiana has entered seven world championship track events, winning all of them (four team and three individual pursuits). Not only that but she won the time trial at the road worlds last year in Yorkshire, outclassing a high-class Dutch armada.
Instantly recognizable in her day-glow pink socks and shoes, Dygert surged two seconds clear at the halfway point and her pace was relentless as she averaged 54.8kmh.
Dygert wanted to go even faster though.
“Today I really wanted to get a (3:14) so I’m a little bummed. But I mean to be able to win is always good,” she said.
It is 21 years since Berlin’s velodrome last hosted the worlds and the home crowds have had plenty to cheer, particularly from the young women’s sprint squad.
With German great and Olympic sprint champion Kristina Vogel, paralyzed from the waist down after a training crash in 2018, watching on as the event’s ambassador, the new wave have produced some scintillating performances.
Friedrich, part of the team sprint squad that won gold this week, blasted to the 500m time trial title on Saturday.
Last of the eight finalists to push off for two flying laps, the 20-year-old edged out Mexico’s Jessica Salazar with a personal best time of 33.121 at an average of 54kmh.
“It’s unbelievable, my first world title on my own,” she said. “I was so fast in training. But it was so close.
“It’s amazing that we have three gold medals and we have the keirin tomorrow. Maybe could be four.”
With young flier Emma Hinze winning the individual sprint on Friday, Germany’s women, who managed only a silver and two bronzes in the 2019 world championships, have seriously upped their game. They have so far claimed three golds, a silver and two bronzes on home soil.
The only men’s gold medal on offer on Saturday was in the omnium and it went to France’s Benjamin Thomas.
Dutchman Jan Willem van Schip was second with Matthew Walls taking bronze for Britain — only their third medal of the championships so far, leaving the track powerhouse in 10th place in the medals table with one day to go.
Britain’s six-time Olympic champion Jason Kenny was eliminated in the last 16 of the sprint which will likely deliver more Dutch gold on Sunday.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond and Pritha Sarkar)