The USA Cycling National Team brought home five track medals last weekend in the final World Cup race of the 2019-2020 season in Milton, Ontario, Canada.
The Women’s Team Pursuit squad of veterans Chloe Dygert and Jennifer Valente and relative newcomers Emma White and Lily Williams came away Friday with a gold medal.
The foursome posted the fastest time in qualifying and in the opening round. The U.S. women put on a dominating performance in the gold medal ride and caught the French team before the full 4 km distance.
The win in Canada cemented Team USA’s second overall ranking in the Women’s Team Pursuit for the 2019-2020 World Cup season, and sets the team up for the UCI Track Cycling World Championships and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Sprints and Keirins
James Mellen represented the U.S. in the Keirin but did not advance out of the repechage rides.
Mellen had a breakout season this year, competing in the 2019 UCI World Cup in Hong Kong and gaining top ten finishes in the Sprint and Keirin at the 2019 Pan American Track Cycling Championships in Cochabamba, Bolivia. He also won multiple medals in Elite UCI Sprint and Keirin events at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in June.
In the Keirin finals, 2016 world champion Joachim Eilers of Germany took gold, Colombian and 2019 Pan American Champion Kevin Santiago secured silver, and Polish rider Rafal Sarnecki rounded out the podium in third.
Sprinters Mandy Marquardt and Maddie Godby earned first-round byes and advanced through the 1/8th round. Marquardt faced-off against Canadian world record holder Kelsey Mitchell in the quarterfinals but lost in three rides.
Godby bested 2018 Keirin world champion Nicky Degrendele, of Belgium, over three rides. Godby faced off against Mitchell in the semi-finals but could not beat the Canadian at her home track.
For the bronze medal round, Godby narrowly edged French 2019 world championship bronze medalist Mathilde Gros. Dutch rider Laurine van Riessen went on to beat Mitchell in two rides for the gold medal.
Valente teamed up with youngster Megan Jastrab in the Women’s Madison. The race was fast and furious, featuring four-time Olympic gold medalist Laura Kenny paired up with World Cup gold medalist Neah Evans from Great Britain, and the 2017 world champions Lotte Kopecky and Julien D’Hoore from Belgium.
Jastrab and Valente won points in nine of the twelve sprints, finishing only four points behind the Belgian duo for third, and only six points behind the winning British pair. The Madison was added back to the Olympic games for 2020, and a medal in the Madison is a prime target for Team USA.
Gavin Hoover and Daniel Holloway held hands for the US in the Men’s Madison. The Dutch duo of Jan Willem van Schip and Yoeri Havik dominated the race and won by 26 points over Ethan Hayter and Oliver Wood from GB. The US pair teamed up with the Dutch and British to take a lap, helping to ensure a top finish. However, a persistent French duo of Benjamin Thomas and Donavan Vincent Grondin edged out Hoover and Holloway by four points to nab the third podium spot. Great Britain finished second.
In the men’s omnium, the USA was represented by young Gavin Hoover in just his third World Cup omnium appearance. Hoover started his evening off with a third-place finish in the Scratch race and a fourth-place finish in the Tempo race.
Hoover raced a gutsy Elimination race, hanging on for third and keeping him in excellent contention for a medal. He also rode a smart Points race, taking a lap and cementing a podium finish in omnium.
The difference between silver and bronze came down just three points and the final sprint. Exhausted after over 200 laps of racing, Hoover didn’t have the legs to come around. Dutch 2019 points race world champion Jan Willem van Schip dominated the omnium from start to finish, finishing no worse than second in all four races. Polish rider Daniel Staniszewski, 22, won silver.
In the final day of competition, Mellen competed in Match Sprints. He qualified 26th and faced-off against young Australian James Brister in the 1/16 round rides. Brister has spent the past two summers competing at the UCI track events at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, and he and Mellen know each other well. But Brister was too fast for Mellen on the day, ending the young American’s second World Cup campaign.
Polish rider and 2019 world championship bronze medalist Mateusz Rudyk won gold in the Sprints, with Frenchmen Quentin Caleyron and Rayan Helal finishing second and third.
Godby took to the track in the Keirin as well to try to replicate her gold medal-winning performance in the Keirin at the 2018-2019 World Cup event in Milton. Godby won her opening round ride, beating a tough heat that included Pan American Champion Lauriane Genest from Canada.
Godby avoided a crash in her semi-final ride and advanced to the finals. She faced off against Degrendele, van Riessen, Spain’s Helena Casas, Colombian Martha Bayona, and Ukrainian Liubov Basova in the finals. Van Riessen continued her winning ways in the Keirin, with Casas finishing second, and Godby edging Degrendele for third.
Valente continued down the path of victory in the Women’s Omnium. A third place finish in scratch race and fifth place finish in the Tempo race put Valente in third place overall halfway through the omnium.
The competition was shaping up to be a battle between Valente and Kenny, who won the Scratch and got fourth in the Tempo, but an injury forced Kenny to withdraw before the elimination race.
Valente showed off her skill and race IQ by winning the Elimination race, vaulting her into first overall at the start of the points race. Valente would consolidate her lead with a dominating performance in the points race, and won the omnium ahead of Trek-Segafredo’s Letizia Paternoster of Italy. Emily Kay of Ireland won bronze in the Omnium, following up her seventh place finish in the Madison with partner Shannon McCurley.
Next stop en route to Tokyo
Team USA now looks ahead to the UCI Track World Championships in Berlin from Feb. 26- March 1. The 2020 World Championships are the last major opportunity to earn priceless qualification points for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
With USA Cycling’s goal of seven medals in Tokyo, the track plays a key component. The U.S. women are medal contenders in the Team Pursuit, Omnium and Madison.