Matthew Richardson (Australia) gave Harrie Lavreysen’s confidence another knock after toppling him again in the sprint at the UCI Track Champions League in Berlin, although the Dutchman recovered to keep his overall lead in the men’s Sprint League.
After stalking Lavreysen (Netherlands) throughout the cautious opening laps, feigning to dive both inside and outside his rival’s back wheel, the Australian eventually launched onto the blue strip on the inside of the velodrome to send a shocked Lavreysen wobbling up the bank.
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Richardson held on to take a memorable victory dubbed a “tactical masterclass” by Rob Hatch on Eurosport commentary and “phenomenal” by two-time Olympic team pursuit champion Joanna Rowsell.
It catapulted Richardson into the overall lead in the virtual standings ahead of the keirin, where the defending champion responded magnificently to win ahead of his new rival.
Lavreysen held the front as Richardson hugged his wheel, with the Australian pinned on the inside and fortunate to find space to squeak through into second in the home straight. Victory moved Lavreysen onto 74 points, two clear of Richardson.
“I’ll try to get my revenge next week,” said Lavreysen after his victory in the keirin, referencing next week’s sprint showdown in Paris.
Kelsey Mitchell (Canada) ripped up the women’s Sprint League, first by winning the keirin and then ousting (now former) leader Shanne Braspennincx (Netherlands) in the sprint heats.
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Mitchell saw off Martha Bayona (Colombia) in the keirin showdown via a photo finish but it was her victory over Braspennincx that arguably caused a bigger stir. That upset guaranteed a new leader heading into Paris, although Mitchell was unable to capitalise herself as she bowed out in the sprint semi-finals. Instead, it was Bayona (49 points) who grabbed top spot ahead of Mitchell (48 points).
Matilde Gros (France) took a superb sprint victory to move into third overall on 46 points.
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