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American track star Jennifer Valente fended off a late charge from Britain’s Katie Archibald to win the overall endurance title at the UCI Track Champions League.
Valente went into the final event, the elimination race, with a slim lead of just six points over the defending champion Archibald.
The American just needed to stay on the coattails of Archibald to keep the title, but she played with fire throughout the race and came close to elimination on several occasions. While Archibald romped away to the race victory, Valente’s second place behind her was enough to seal the overall title by three points.
“Katie is the reigning champion of this league and such a tough competitor and really such a phenomenal bike racer,” Valente said. “Winning this definitely caps off probably the best year I could have hoped for, from winning Olympic gold, to the world title, to this.
“This league is in its second year and it’s continuing to grow and I’m really excited to be a part of hopefully the beginning of hopefully a really long series.”
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Valente took the lead of the competition in the opening round in Mallorca, thanks to a very consistent performance combined with a rare error from Archibald in the elimination race.
While Archibald would ultimately win five of the 10 races on offer throughout the five weeks of racing, it was Valente’s consistency that kept her at the top of the standings. She won the elimination race on the penultimate round of the competition and did not finish outside of the top 4 in any of the races, to take 161 points across the competition.
Valente has based herself in Europe throughout the competition, setting herself up in hotels in each of the host cities in the week before the competition. Her win comes off the back of a breakthrough year that saw her take omnium gold in Tokyo at the Olympics last year and the world title in France earlier this season.
“My first UCI Track Champions League series has played out pretty much how I hoped for as well. I’ve been living the hotel life for a few weeks now as I live outside of Europe, but it’s a good environment to be in, with good racing, and I’ve really enjoyed it,” she said.