On the first day of medals at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, the home crowd had been hoping for treble joy. But while Katie Archibald and Neah Evans helped deliver Great Britain’s first gold of Glasgow 2018 there was no medal success for fellow Scot, Jack Carlin.
The women’s team pursuit team of Archibald, Evans, Elinor Barker and Laura Kenny, who was seeking her first major medal since Rio 2016 and the birth of son Albie, showed grit and composure to vanquish the Italy team who had denied them top spot on the podium at European level last year, and lead-off rider Archibald revealed that this had served as motivation as they saw out a tight contest to rapturous applause.
“As in any competitive sport, you don’t come back with a grudge but you do come back wanting to win so I’m proud to be up on the top step [of the podium],” said the 24-year-old European, Commonwealth, World and Olympic champion, who was more worried about getting back to the hotel after the medal ceremony and preparing for what will hopefully be a long day spent defending her individual title today.
But there was no escaping the joy of the moment, as she and Evans savoured winning on home soil. “It is fantastic. That is the reason you are here – to win,” said Evans, who built on her silver and bronze from this year’s Commonwealth Games. “To achieve that is brilliant and doing it here is even more special. For me and Katie, Glasgow is home, and we got a warm welcome and that makes you feel great.
“We had a schedule which we were pretty close to. We knew we had more to give but we were trying to be controlled and we rode it pretty well. There will always be little bits where we think we could have done that better but overall we were very happy.”
The race was nip and tuck throughout but with one kilometre to go, Britain piled on the pressure and as their opponents crumbled, they crossed the line in 4:16.896, ahead of the Italians who finished in 4:25.384. It was a gold to add to the bronze won by the men’s team pursuit quartet and the silver of Kay Emily, who narrowly missed out on gold in a thrilling sprint finish to the 10km scratch race.
But for all the highs, the performance of the men’s and women’s sprint teams did provide a low note.
The inexperienced female team of Lauren Bate-Lowe and Katy Marchant failed to make it out of the qualifying but the men had lofty expectations.
Speaking in the days before these European Games got underway, Scottish team member Carlin revealed he was worried he would be slaughtered by his Paisley mates if he failed to deliver for them after they had forked out for tickets.
With that in mind, he will have had some awkward conversations if they had bought briefs for last night’s team sprint finals. Because fortune had conspired to deny him a place in the medal races.
He had been the second man in the trio which had Ryan Owens as the lead-out rider and saw Jason Kenny, back from retirement and looking for his first major medal since the Rio Olympics, charged with bringing them home.
The qualification went well and they posted the third fastest time but there was a switch up in the first round, with the Scot rested, and his replacement Philip Hindes had a nightmare as he slipped at the start and ran over one of the marker cushions. By the time he had recovered, he and Kenny were well adrift of their lead man and fighting a losing battle to overhaul their Polish counterparts.
Carlin sloped out of the arena at the end of the session, looking fed up, but will pick himself up for the individual sprint and the keirin, with qualifying for the former getting underway tomorrow.