Harrie Lavreysen and Alessa-Catriona Propster kept up their fine Sprint seasons in the 2023 UCI Track Champions League, with both registering wins in their individual sprint races in London.
It was also a successful evening for Martha Bayona and Kevin Quintero, who made it a Colombian double by triumphing in the men’s and women’s keirin respectively.
First up at the Lee Valley Velopark were the qualification rounds of the men’s sprint and they went according to the form book, with the top two riders in the overall Sprint standings this season – Lavreysen and Matthew Richardson – coasting through their semi-finals.
That set up another mouthwatering showdown between the two fastest men on the boards this TCL campaign.
In the women’s sprint semis, one of the form riders in the discipline this year – Germany’s Propster – took the first spot in the final.
But there was a shock – a pleasant one for the home crowd – as Britain’s Katy Marchant won the second semi to make it into the night’s showdown, knocking out current Sprint leader Ellesse Andrews of New Zealand.
As the finals arrived later in the night, first it was the men’s turn – and the much-anticipated clash between Lavreysen and Richardson.
The pair set off at a snail’s pace which built the tension, before touching shoulders as the Australian took the lead into the final lap.
But Lavreysen – though far back – came storming through to take it by a hair’s breadth on the line, celebrating with deserved gusto.
Next was the women, and Marchant got one of the night’s biggest roars as she arrived at the start line.
She even succeeded in forcing her opponent Propster to the front, but when the German put the hammer down, Marchant was unable to close the ground, and conceded victory.
That put Propster – for now – tied at the top of the Sprint rankings with Andrews.
The evening’s final act saw the men and women take on the keirin, with the men going first.
It was a star-studded field, with Lavreysen, Richardson and world champion Kevin Quintero on the start line.
And it proved to be as tight as many had expected, with Quintero the man to take victory as he held off Lavreysen in the final corner.
Just as entertaining was the women’s keirin, which had been scheduled to be the final event of the night, but ended up preceding the women’s elimination, which was red-flagged and re-run due to a crash.
It looked like Andrews would stay out front after a late dig, but then came Martha Bayona, whose acceleration took her to the line ahead of all comers.
All of which means tomorrow night’s Grand Finale at the same venue will likely see Andrews, Propster and Bayona vie for the women’s Sprint crown, and Lavreysen and Richardson do the same in the men’s equivalent.