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Katie Archibald has battle on hands to retain UCI Track Champions League title

Katie Archibald (top left) will need to overturn an eight-point deficit on Saturday (John Walton/PA)
Katie Archibald (top left) will need to overturn an eight-point deficit on Saturday (John Walton/PA)

Katie Archibald will need to overturn an eight-point deficit to American Jennifer Valente on Saturday night if she is to retain her UCI Track Champions League title.

The Olympic Madison champion went into Friday’s penultimate round in London one point behind Valente in the women’s endurance standings and put herself three points up with second place in a scratch race won by Ireland’s Emily Kay, only to finish seventh in an elimination race won by her rival.

The 28-year-old Scot made her return to racing when this series began in Mallorca last month, having lost her partner in August when mountain biker Rab Wardell died suddenly at the age of 37.

“I’m disappointed,” Archibald said after the elimination race. “I probably deserved it. I had a few close calls. I should have got my head down but when you don’t have the legs, it changes your decision making.

“I guess anybody can make mistakes. I don’t know why I keep doing them. I guess that’s what I’m relying on – an error from Jennifer – but that’s alright.”

Coventry-born Kay, who rode for Great Britain before switching allegiance to Ireland in 2019, attacked with six laps to go in the scratch race and held on for a win she said gave her renewed belief after a difficult spell.

The 27-year-old has spoken openly of battling bulimia and depression before a crash at the Tokyo Olympics ruined her hopes in the omnium.

“This is huge for me,” she said. “I’ve stepped away from the sport for a while and come back trying to find form. I crashed at the Olympics and I’ve been searching for a result to be proud of.

“The best in the world are here and I can’t not be happy with that. It’s those glimmers of hope that make you realise it’s still there.”

True to her own prediction, Dame Laura Kenny was again off the pace as she adjusts her training – finishing well down in both races.

Will Perrett lit up the men’s endurance competition as the British Madison champion took a stunning victory in the scratch race.

The 26-year-old, who is self-funding as he bids to force his way onto British Cycling’s podium programme, sent a message to watching performance director Stephen Park with a superb ride in front of his family.

After attacking alongside Moritz Malcharek to gain a lap on the field, Perrett left the German behind and started his celebrations with three quarters of the final lap to go.

“You don’t win often so when you do, do it properly and celebrate hard,” said Perrett, who 10 years ago was on the other side of the Lee Valley VeloPark barriers watching the London Olympics as a teenager.

“I knew I’d won it. I looked behind and saw (Malcharek) had cracked. It was an amazing feeling.

 

“It’s not one I’m going to forget. I really hoping I can get a recording of that race.”

Perrett then moved up to sixth overall in the standings after finishing fifth in an elimination race won by American Gavin Hoover. Switzerland’s Claudio Imhof and Spain’s Sebastian Mora are tied for the lead on 99 points.

France’s Mathilde Gross leads the women’s sprint standings by nine points from Canada’s Kelsey Mitchell, while Australia’s Matthew Richardson is five points clear of world champion Harrie Lavreysen in the men’s sprint going into Saturday’s fifth and final round