Track Cycling

Russia claim two golds as track cycling European Championships begin

For the first time in major international competition, the women's team sprint was held under the same conditions as the men's race.

By ZK Goh ·

Russian cyclists were the big winners on the first day of the 2020 UEC Track European Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, taking home two golds and one bronze medal.

The country's two team sprint trios – Anastasiia Voinova, Daria Shmeleva, and Natalia Antonova in the women's and Denis Dmitriev, Pavel Yakushevskiy, and Ivan Gladyshev in the men's – both breezed through to comfortably win their respective events on Wednesday.

Sergei Rostovtsev was the third Russian medallist of the day, taking bronze in the men's elimination race won by Great Britain's Matthew Walls, who improved on his fourth place from last year. Iuri Leitao of Portugal took silver in that race.

The women's scratch race, meanwhile, was won by Italian Martina Fidanza from Belarusian Hanna Tserakh and Ukraine's Tetyana Klimchenko.

New rules for women's team sprint

For the first time in major international competition, the women's team sprint was held under the same conditions as the men's.

Previously, women's team sprints were run in teams of two over two laps of a velodrome (500 metres), while the men's team sprints are run in teams of three over three laps (750 m).

The International Cycling Union changed the rulebook in June, and UCI World Cup and Championship events going forward – with the notable exception of next year's rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – will see the women race under the new rules.

However, the women's team sprint in Tokyo will take place under the old rules as qualification spots in track cycling have already been awarded under the old system.

Out of a field of four teams, there were no real surprises as Russia – with Olympic silver medallists Voinova and Shmeleva in their ranks – defeated the Czech Republic in the first round before seeing off an inexperienced Great Britain team in the final.

Their final winning time was 46.852 seconds, with the Brits finishing 1.679 seconds behind.

Ukraine (49.296) won the bronze-medal race against the Czech Republic.

Dmitriev leads Russian men to triumph

Olympic bronze medallist Dmitriev, meanwhile, won his first European title since individual gold in 2013 as he helped Russia see off the Czech Republic in the men's final.

Of the six teams in action, the Russians were clearly the strongest trio, clocking the fastest time in the seeding heats before easily beating hosts Bulgaria in the first round.

Dmitriev and his teammates were, in truth, never really put under pressure by the Czechs in the final. They clocked 43.007 seconds, 0.918 seconds clear of their rivals.

Greece (44.098), who did not take part in this event last year, were perhaps the surprise package team as they defeated Spain for bronze.

Earlier in the evening, Russia and Italy booked their places in the final of the men's team pursuit, while defending champions Great Britain will face the Italians in the women's final on Thursday (12 November).