Quiet Southland sprinter Matt Archibald cemented a break-out season with his first world championship medal on the third day of the UCI Track World Championships near Paris.
The 28 year old earned a bronze medal in the 1000m time trial, to go with his bronze in the same event at the Commonwealth Games, and he set the fastest time at sea level by a New Zealander in the process.
It was New Zealand’s fourth medal at the world championships, which almost became five when teenage super-talent Regan Gough missed a medal in the 40km points race on a countback after playing a role in the winning team pursuit ride on the previous night.
Archibald, the sixth rider off, produced a stunning start on his way to clocking 1:00.470 to go to the top of the leaderboard. It stood until the final two rides, with compatriot Simon van Velthooven slipping at the start which cost him any chance of a fourth world championship medal in this discipline.
The penultimate rider, German Joachim Eilers edged the burly Kiwi by 18/100ths of a second before world record holder Francois Pervis, buoyed by the partisan French crowd, snuck home in 1:00.207.
It brought the house down and tears to the French star who won the keirin gold medal last night.
Archibald has been the nearly-man in the sprint squad but his improving performances will ensure the rest of the squad cannot rest on their laurels.
“I felt like I have made some massive improvements in training with the help of Damien (Wise) and Anthony (Peden). I was confident I could do a pretty good time,” Archibald said.
“To put it into perspective, I am part of a world performing team. Now to have a world medal to go with a commonwealth medal, I feel like I am doing the team justice.
“I am pretty stoked. To get a medal, I was over the moon. It’s a roller coaster of emotions because I felt capable of winning it but at the same time, such was the quality of the field, that I could have as easily come 15th.”
Gough, a double junior world champion last year, was added to the team mostly for experience.
That changed when endurance coach Tim Carswell brought him in to the team pursuit for the final, and today he backed up with a brilliant debut in the exciting points race, the event in which he won a rainbow jersey at last year’s junior world championship in Korea.
He joined two riders who slipped away mid-race to put a lap on the field, and he climbed to the top of the table with 40 laps remaining after winning a sprint. He joined, then edged by Artur Ershov (RUS) and Eloy Teruel Rovira (ESP) who lapped the field late in the race.
It came to the final sprint but the 18 year old from Hawkes Bay had run out of fuel with German Maximilian Beyer finishing just ahead to nab the bronze medal on countback, only two points to winner Ershov.
“The legs were not too good for the first 80-odd laps and the surges took it out of me,” Gough said.”I managed to find the right group to get the lap which enabled me to catch my breath and find some legs.
“I knew the German was close and saw he was only 20 metres up the track. I gave it everything I had in the last four laps but there was just not enough gas in the tank.”
The 2013 world champion Aaron Gate lies in seventh place after the first day of the six-event omnium.
The Auckland rider, still not back to his best form for this challenging discipline, was fourth in the scratch race, 11th in the 4000m individual pursuit in 4:27.382 after fading in the final kilo, and seventh in the elimination.
He is in seventh overall on 78 points, led by Colombia’s Fernando Gaviria on 110, with tomorrow’s action featuring the 1000m time trial, Flying Lap and final points race.
In other rides Stephanie McKenzie set an excellent qualifying time of 11.155s in the women’s sprint but such was the quality of the field it secured 20th fastest although qualifying her for the elimination round.
However the improving 22-year-old could not match strong Chinese sprinter Shuang Guo and was eliminated in the first round.
Earlier Jaime Nielsen was seventh fastest and Georgia Williams 11th in qualifying for the 3000m individual pursuit and did not advance.
Tomorrow’s penultimate day features Gate in the second day and Racquel Sheath in the first of the omnium, Eddie Dawkins and Sam Webster in the sprint, Marc Ryan and Dylan Kennett in the individual pursuit and Rushlee Buchannan in the scratch race.
Results Day 3:
Men 1000m Time Trial: Francois Pervis (FRA) 1:00.207, 1; Joachim Eilers (GER) 1:00.294, 2; Matt Archibald (NZL) 1:00.470, 3. Also: Simon van Velthooven (NZL0 1:01.157, 9.
Men Omnium, 15km Scratch race: Elia Viviani (ITA), 1; Jonathan Dibben (GBR) 2, Fernando Gaviria (COL) 3. Also: Aaron Gate (NZL) 4. 4000m Individual Pursuit: Glenn O’Shea (AUS) 4:20.807, 1; Gaviria 4:23.567, 2; Viktor Manakov (RUS) 4:24.025, 3. Also: Gate 4:27.382, 11. Elimination: Viviani 1, Thomas Boudat (FRA) 2, Gaviria 3.
Points after 3 rounds: Gaviria 110, 1; Viviani 102, 2; Boudat 94 and Jasper de Buyst (BEL) 94, equal 3. Also: Gate: 78, 7.
Women sprint, qualifying: Tianshi Zhong (CHN) 10.627, 1; Elis Ligtlee (NED) 10.732, 2; Stephanie Morton (AUS) 10.754, 3. Also: Stephanie McKenzie (NZL) 11.155, 20. First round: Shuang Guo (CHN) bt McKenzie.
Women 3000m Individual Pursuit: Rebecca Wiasak (AUS) 3:27.018, 1; Jennifer Valente (USA) 3:29.547, 2; Amy Cure (AUS) 3:29.794, 3. Also: Jaime Nielsen (NZL) 3:34.938, 7; Georgia Williams (NZL) 3:38.731, 11.
Men 40km Points Race: Artur Ershov (RUS) 31 points, 1; Eloy Teruel Rovira (ESP) 30, 2; Maximilian Beyer (GER) 29, 3. Also: Regan Gough 29 points, 4 (on countback).
CAPTIONS: Matt Archibald in action and celebrating his medal on day three action at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships.
Photos courtesy: Guy Swarbrick/Cycling New Zealand