Racquel Sheath and Michaela Drummond teamed up in a history making madison and rode brilliantly throughout to eventually come away with fourth.  The first ever women’s madison at a UCI Track World Championships saw Belgium take the win ahead of Great Britain and Australia.

Racquel Sheath and Michaela Drummond, no matter what happened, were to be part of history being made on day 4 of track cycling.  The pair lined up as one of 15 teams for the first ever women’s madison event.  The 120 lap race would take in 12 sprints over the 30km. 

Racing got underway with New Zealand paying close attention to goings on at the front.  America led the way through the early laps, while Sheath and Drummond stayed very close to the head of affairs, leading the field through laps 5 and 6.  The first crash in women’s omnium history at the world championships occurred between Ireland as the race headed towards the first sprint.  Drummond was sat in sixth place as she slung Sheath into action.  But it was Eleanor Barker of Team GB who took max points with Sheath just missing the points.  

The first sprint was the lighting of the lighting of a fuse that saw a strong injection of pace before things settled down a little.  Mexico launched the first serious bid to try and gain a lap with 105 laps to go.  She gained half a lap quickly, while behind them in the run in to the sprint New Zealand were well positioned this time and Racquel Sheath took the team’s first points of the evening with fourth place in the sprint.

Ireland had recovered from their earlier crash and were now stretching the field out just a little, with Michaela Drummond and Racquel Sheath also setting a fast pace.  With 94 laps to go Drummond was slung in and straight on the front of the race before Italy took over on the front.  Next to crash though was Alexandra Manly of Australia, but Amy Cure stuck at it and succeeded in taking maximum points for the Aussies while this time New Zealand were out of contention for points.

New Zealand seemed to change their stance now as they moved back in the bunch.  They still remained in the leading bunch, but they allowed others to come through and set the pace.  Coming to the next sprint Drummond was riding into position well and threw Racquel Sheath in on the bell, with Sheath taking third place this time and 2 points for the Kiwi duo.  For now then Team New Zealand were 6 points off a podium place.

The USA then launched another attack courtesy of Kimberly Zubris.  The American launched a move but the gap they needed only grew relatively slowly.  It looked like the Americans would take the points for the sprint but the Italians then led the chase to swiftly reel them in and put in a big effort to take the 5 points in the sprint.  Still no attack had managed to succeed as the race headed towards the halfway mark.

Heading towards 60 laps covered New Zealand were sitting in 7th place overall.  The pace was reasonably high still, but still no breakaway had succeeded.  But then New Zealand put in an injection of pace courtesy of Racquel Sheath and proceeded to stretch the field quite significantly.  Drummond was slung in in second place heading into the sprint, but hit the bell with a number of other teams trying to get in touch.  New Zealand succeeded in picking up another point.

At halfway Belgium led with 19 points to Great Britain’s 13 and Australia’s 11.  A small group of teams had begun to form at the front of the race, and New Zealand were in it and looking strong as Drummond led the duo and slung Sheath into the race with 54 laps to go.  Australia and Belgium were poised to strike though and it was Australia who really picked up the pace with Belgium, Britain and Italy all challenging.

The high intensity saw an attack go clear Belgium, Britain and Australia all trying to go clear.  New Zealand were just behind and closing successfully just in time for France to make a move with Laurie Berthon accelerating.  Australia tried to close the gap with New Zealand on their shoulders.  Sheath slung Drummond in with 42 laps to go.  This time New Zealand managed to take third place in the sprint, to move up to fifth overall.

At the front of the race Australia, New Zealand, Belgium and Great Britain remained strong, while Italy were losing out and missing the move.  Sheath was slung into the race with 34 laps to go, and looking strong as the five teams began to jostle for position coming into the sprint.  Drummond then  hit the front on the bell lap but it was Team GB who took the points but only after Australia had hit the deck again.  Amy Cure stayed upright to take fourth in the sprint behind Drummond, who was forced to swerve out of the way.

On the front of the race Australia had dropped back leaving Britain, Belgium and New Zealand on the front of the race.  Michaela Drummond led the way with 24 laps to go as the Kiwis remained strong.  They were 7 points away from a podium place though in 4th as the laps ticked away.  Sheath was sitting third wheel heading towards the bell but they then found themselves in the lead, as Drummond took the Barker and Koppecky clashed, leaving Drummond to take five points and move up to 18 points; just 2 points shy of Australia’s third place.

Still the three teams remained on the front and it began to look like New Zealand could grab a medal.  But behind them Australia were closing and managed to regain contact with the front of the race.  It would all come down to how the points would fall in the final two sprints.  As a group of almost a dozen teams now sat together.  The penultimate sprint saw Australia strike back and take third place in the sprint as Belgium – who were relegated after the previous sprint – hit back to take the win ahead of Italy.  New Zealand missed out on the sprint, meaning that to take a medal New Zealand needed 9 points and therefore maximum points in the final sprint.  Australia would also have to not finish in the top four.  Italy also would have to be out of the points.

With 5 to go Great Britain and Belgium attacked though and distanced the rest with Alex Manly and Racquel Sheath the closest chasers.  They were closing again though and it was going to come down to the final sprint.  New Zealand were in contention but Belgium took the sprint and the madison title with it in impressive style.  Great Britain took second place in the sprint and second place overall, while Australia took third in the sprint ahead of Michaela Drummond for New Zealand to secure bronze.

Racquel Sheath and Michaela Drummond rode impressively and featured strongly throughout the race.  They remained at the front of the race as the pace rose bit by bit and took points throughout the sprints.  It was a gutsy ride by the pair of them in a race that saw a number of crashes and it bodes well for their future in the event.

 

Results:
Pos. Team Points

1

Belgium

44

  Lotte Kopecky  
  Jolien D’Hoore  

2

Great Britain

34

  Elinor Barker  
  Emily Nelson  

3

Australia

25

  Amy Cure  
  Alexandra Manly  

4

New Zealand

15

  Racquel Sheath  
  Michaela Drummond  

5

Italy

14

  Maria Giulia Confalonieri  
  Rachele Barbieri  

6

France

5

7

Mexico

5

8

USA

1

9

Russia

0

10

Ireland

0

11

Hong Kong

-20

  Ukraine DNF
  Czech Republic DNF
  Belarus DNF
  Poland DNF
  Canada DNS

 

Photo:  Con Chronis

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