Jennifer Valente already had become the most decorated American track cyclist in history at this year’s world championships, winning a gold medal in the scratch race and a bronze medal in the elimination race to give her 19 medals for her career.
Valente capped her week in Glasgow, Scotland, on Wednesday by making that total a nice, round — and golden — number.
The Olympic champion in the multi-event omnium, Valente built a substantial lead over the first three of four races, leaving her only to keep track of her closest pursuers in the concluding points race. When Amalie Dideriksen and Lotte Kopecky gained a lap on the field, Valente was right there with them, and she was still with them by the time the 80-lap race had concluded.
That allowed the 28-year-old from California to finish with 145 points, thanks in large part to her victory in the tempo race and second-place finishes in the scratch and elimination races. Dideriksen had 136 to take silver for Denmark, while Kopecky earned bronze for Belgium by holding off 2021 world champion Katie Archibald of Britain.
“To back up last year is really special in a different kind of way,” Valente said. “I was just elated last year, and so excited and had reached a career goal of mine, and I think this race was really for me and I was focused on myself and my own racing.”
Now, Valente will head to the Paris Olympics next summer as the favorite to defend her gold medal from Tokyo.
“I think it’ll continue to set in over the next couple of minutes and hours and days,” Valente said.
In other finals from the final day of track cycling in Glasgow, Colombia’s Kevin Quintero ended the three-year reign of the Netherlands’ Harrie Lavreysen in the men’s keirin; Emma Finucane of Britain beat Emma Hinze in the semifinals and German teammate Lea Friedrich in the finals of the women’s sprint; and Aaron Gate of New Zealand won the men’s points race.
In the only final taking place outside the velodrome Wednesday, the heavily favored Swiss mountain bike team anchored by Nino Schurter won the mixed relay in Glentress Forest Park just south of Edinburgh, Scotland.
Schurter was joined by Dario Lillo, Nicolas Halter, Linda Indergand, Ronja Blochlinger and Anina Hutter in finishing nine seconds ahead of silver medalist France on the six-lap circuit. Denmark edged Canada by a single second to take bronze.
In the finals of the keirin, where Lavreysen had won the past three titles, it was Quintero who made a statement. He rushed to the front of the race, which begins behind a motorized bike called a derny that slowly picks up speed before finishing in a sprint, and had plenty of space between him and the field as he crossed the finish line.
Matthew Richardson of Australia took the silver medal and Shinji Nakano of Japan the bronze, while Lavreysen — the sprint world champion who had narrowly escaped the semifinal round — finished out of the medals in fourth place.
The 20-year-old Finucane proved that she could be a force at the Paris Olympics in the women’s sprint, where she had to take down two of the best in the sport. The Brit first knocked out Hinze, the two-time world champ and bronze medalist a year ago, then beat the reigning silver medalist Friedrich in the finals.
In the first of their best-of-three race for the gold, Finucane came hard around the outside to take the sprint by 15 hundredths of a second. In their second race, Friedrich tried to do the same thing but was unable to catch Finucane at the line.
Ellesse Andrews of New Zealand swept past Hinze in their race for the bronze medal.
In the men’s points race, where points are awarded for gaining a lap or placing in sprints, Gate finished with 123 points to win the gold medal. Albert Torres of Spain was second with 107 and Belgium’s Fabio van den Bossche third with 95.
“I’ve wanted that for a long time. I last had a crack at the points race in the world championships in 2012,” Gate said. “It was my 4-year-old boys’ birthday yesterday so it was nice to make it worthwhile.”
AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games