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A screaming sold-out crowd at London’s Lea Valley VeloPark celebrated their country’s favorite Katie Archibald taking the overall women’s endurance title in the final round of the inaugural UCI Track Champions League on Saturday night. American Gavin Hoover won the men’s endurance title, and German Emma Hinze and Dutch Harrie Lavreysen took their respective sprint titles.
The sprint competition consisted of keirin and sprint races; the endurance competition featured elimination and scratch races.
Archibald won the series ahead of Kirsten Wild of the Netherlands, who retired after the race, saying she had mixed emotions about hanging her bike up. Wild won more than 100 races in her career, which began in 2004, including 21 classics.
Hoover came into the fourth and final round of the Champion League in second overall after winning the elimination race on Friday night in round 3. The series leader at the time, Sebastian Mora, took the strategy of marking Hoover in Saturday’s scratch race. Mora got caught up in traffic and crashed, and was relegated by race officials.
In the elimination race, Hoover lasted to finish fourth — just one ahead of Mora to sew up the title.
“I thought maybe after winning the elimination race yesterday it was possible [to win the overall], but it was definitely not expected,” Hoover said. “I was just trying to win every individual race, and not worry about the overall. That helped me stay calm, and stay relaxed.”
After the fifth round in Tel Aviv was canceled due to Covid concerns, London’s doubleheader ended up being the conclusion of the UCI’s first Track Champions League. And that was just fine by the British crowd, who celebrated not only Archibald’s win but Ed Clancy’s retirement after his final race.
“It’s been an amazing way to check out,” said Clancy, who had represented Great Britain at the Tokyo Olympics. “Never before have I had such a cheer getting 18th place. I’ve had a riot. Thank you and goodbye.”
The evening’s racing and podium presentations had a disco club feel, with the house lights often dimmed, music pumping, and fireworks shooting off behind each rider on the four-person podium.
Canada’s Kelsey Mitchell was third overall in the women’s sprint and her compatriot Maggie Coles-Lyster was fourth in the women’s endurance.