Team KGF’s rags-to-riches story continued at the Track World Cup on Friday night as the amateur squad qualified for the bronze-medal race in the men’s team pursuit.
While Great Britain – with three-time Olympic champion Ed Clancy back on the track for the first time since Rio – topped the time-sheets to set up a gold-medal clash with Denmark, British national champions KGF finished fourth fastest to book a Saturday meeting with France.
There was a brief panic when the big screens in the Velodrome in Manchester suggested Germany were into the bronze-medal race instead, but the young quartet of Daniel Bigham, Charlie Tanfield, Jacob Tipper, and Jonathan Wale got good news when their team manager returned from a meeting with commissaires.
“We panicked for a minute there,” admitted Tipper, with the confusion coming after Germany won their heat with Italy but did so in a slower time than KGF.
The young group – made up of two engineers, a student and a coach who are well used to sleeping on each other’s floors as they pursue their cycling dreams – recorded a time of three minutes 58.134 seconds, just under two seconds off the fastest time of Britain’s Steven Burke, Kian Emadi, Oliver Wood and Clancy.
KGF race on a shoestring budget – though they competed in Poland last week they are not sure if they can afford to attend another World Cup meeting this season – and upset the odds by winning the national title in January.
Now they hope to do the same again against France here to take a World Cup bronze.
To do so they may well again employ unusual tactics, seen here as Wale did a full five laps on the front before giving way, while Tipper only did a half-turn pull before helping in the final push to the line.
“What’s good about us is we’re doing it our own way,” Tipper added. “We’re playing with the cards we’ve been dealt.
“It’s all to play for (on Saturday). France just pulled out a ride there, but they only beat us by point one of a second (in the heats) this morning, and we made a few mistakes this morning. We can do it.”
World champion Katie Archibald had to settle for silver behind American Jennifer Valente in the omnium after fading at the very end of the deciding points race.
Archibald was just one point behind Valente with 10 laps of the final event to go, but could not hang on and eventually finished five points off the American’s winning total of 139 points.
“I had to get points on the board early, but we were obviously both struggling,” Archibald said. “Everybody thinks they can put it all on the line on the last lap and they’ve got more to empty out, but it turns out I didn’t.
“I’m happy with it. I think it was a fair silver. I made mistakes as everybody does and couldn’t recuperate from it, but it was more my legs than my luck.”
The 23-year-old Scot had finished fourth in the opening scratch race after being heavily marked in the rainbow jersey, and was second in the tempo race, winning five sprints.
She moved up to second overall by winning the elimination race ahead of the Valente.
Riding for Team Wales, GB academy rider Jon Mould took silver in a men’s scratch race won by Nikita Panassenko of Kazakhstan.
There was disappointment for Britain’s young trio in the men’s team sprint as Jack Carlin, Ryan Owens and Joseph Truman had to settle for fourth place, losing out to Holland by a margin of 0.149 seconds in the bronze-medal race.
Katy Marchant and Sophie Capewell set a season’s best time of 33.530 in the women’s team sprint but that was only good enough for sixth place on the night.