Katie Archibald finishes with a flourish to delight London crowd


Katie Archibald handed over her women’s endurance title in the UCI Track Champions League but not before taking a hugely popular win in the closing elimination race at the Lee Valley VeloPark.

Jennifer Valente took second in the race, with the American choosing not to contest the final sprint knowing she had already done enough to secure the overall title by three points from Archibald.

That gave Archibald the opportunity to celebrate with the London crowd, which rose to its feet to salute a rider who has been competing in this event only months after the loss of partner Rab Wardell, who died suddenly at the age of 37 in August.

Archibald – one of three British winners on the night as fellow Scott Mark Stewart triumphed in the men’s scratch race and Ollie Wood in the elimination race – said the feeling of winning on the London track was better than Olympic success.

“I’ve experienced that feeling here with Laura (Kenny) racing Madisons,” the 28-year-old said of the roar of a home crowd. “It’s not like an Olympics, it’s so much more with it being in London.

“I can’t imagine what they felt experiencing a home Olympics in this velodrome. It’s an experience you can’t describe and I’m so grateful I’m one of a handful of people who have felt something like that in my bones.”

Archibald’s early exit from Friday’s elimination race had left with her an eight-point deficit at the start of the night as the second edition of this made-for-TV format reached its conclusion with the last of five rounds.

Archibald had looked eager to overturn that deficit in the scratch race early in the night, attacking with 16 laps to go, but Valente soon closed the gap and barely let go of Archibald’s wheel, finishing fourth to the Scot’s third to retain a six-point advantage.

UCI Track Champions League 2022 – Day Two – Lee Valley VeloParkUCI Track Champions League 2022 – Day Two – Lee Valley VeloPark

Mark Stewart took Britain’s first success of the night in the men’s scratch race (John Walton/PA)

Earlier Mark Stewart out-sprinted Dutchman Matthijs Buchli to take the men’s scratch race, with Wood narrowly behind in third.

“That genuinely is the best feeling I’ve ever had on a bike,” the 27-year-old former Commonwealth champion said. “Not just the win but the win induced the crowd.”

The win saw Stewart move up to third in the overall standings, a place he retained despite an early exit in the elimination race.

“I don’t care about the overall,” he added. “I just wanted to get a win in London.”

And after Will Perrett’s success in Friday’s scratch race, Wood made sure all three British riders in the men’s endurance category had enjoyed success this weekend by winning the closing elimination race, overhauling Claudio Imhof in the final bend.

“I literally almost gave up,” Wood said. “Claudio took me to the top of the track and I was absolutely fried. He went, I heard the crowd and I thought I’d best give it some. I didn’t even look where he was, I just went full gas.

“It’s pretty special. I won races in the Paris and Berlin legs, but nothing compares to this.”

Imhof’s second place was enough to earn him the men’s endurance title as he finished level on points with Sebastian Mora, while Stewart was third and Wood fourth in the standings.

France’s Mathilde Gros was crowned the women’s sprint champion and Australian Matthew Richardson took the men’s sprint title.