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Jennifer Valente won her second straight world championships bronze medal Thursday during the elimination race in the second day of racing at the UCI track cycling world championships in France.
Valente was with the final group of riders going into the closing laps in the exciting format, when the last rider in each bell lap is eliminated. The discipline was contested for the first time as world championship discipline.
Italy’s Letizia Paternoster was the last rider standing after beating back silver medalist Belgium’s Lotte Kopecky who came to the line fighting for the world title.
Valente, who won gold in the omnium in the Tokyo Olympics, also claimed bronze in the scratch race to open the worlds Wednesday. Thursday’s medal is her 14th career World Championship medal.
Filippo Ganna leads Italy to team pursuit crown
Italy won gold in the men’s team pursuit at the track cycling world championships on Thursday confirming their status as new masters of the discipline after beating France in a tense final.
Germany’s women then edged the Italians in the women’s pursuit, while Frenchman Donavan Grondin won the 60-lap scratch title and Harrie Lavreysen of the Netherlands won the men’s keirin sprint race.
In a cagey 4km struggle over the steep banked walls of the Roubaix velodrome Olympic team pursuit champions Italy, led by road race star Filippo Ganna, pounced with just two laps remaining to power clear and win by over two seconds.
The triumph is Italy’s first in the event since 1997 and marks a power shift away from Great Britain and Australia, which have long dominated the discipline.
The 25-year-old Ineos Grenadiers rider Ganna led a youthful lineup of Liam Bertazzo, Simone Consonni and Jonathan Milan, who were part of a four-man outfit that won gold in Tokyo, with Bertazzo preferred here in the world final to Olympic gold winner Francesco Lamon.
The three Olympic title winners were wearing gold helmets and riding gold-colored bikes, which Olympic champions can do in all relevant races until the next Games.
Italy took 3min 47.192sec to win the title while Great Britain won the bronze medal race against Denmark.
France’s Grondin wins scratch in front of home fans
French 21-year-old Donavan Grondin then sprung a surprise in the 15km (60 laps) men’s scratch race to the raucous approval of the home fans.
Grondin won on the last lap ahead of Belgium’s Tuur Dens and the Briton Rhys Britton, none of whom had been among the pre-race favorites.
“I haven’t raced the scratch for a while, but really, you never can tell with this race, it can be quite random,” said Donovan, who was born on France’s Reunion Islands. “The fans carried me, and my parents are here, I was just hoping to stay in the mix to be honest.”
American Gavin Hooper opened up a late-race attack to lead, but was caught with two laps to go.
Both finalists of the explosive keirin final were from the Netherlands as Harrie Lavreysen edged Jeffrey Hoogland to retain his world title.
An accident earlier in the keirin saw Japanese rider Koya Matsui leave the velodrome on a stretcher.
The day’s action wound up with a German quartet Franziska Brausse, Lisa Brennauer, Mieke Kroger, and Laura Sussemilch denying Italy a team pursuit double, winning by a comfortable five seconds.
Action continues Friday with the women’s sprint final, men’s 1km time-trial, and men’s 1km individual pursuit.
Valente will start the omnium in the morning with an initial heat race, then on to the scratch, tempo, elimination, and points races, where the overall Omnium champion will be crowned. Hoover will race in the individual points ace, and world-record holder Ashton Lambie will compete in the individual pursuit.
— AFP contributed to this report