France enjoyed an outstanding night on the velodrome with two gold medals at the European Championships in Grenchen, Switzerland.
Road and track superstar Benjamin Thomas continued his strong 2021 with a typically authoritative victory before Valentine Fortin survived an incident-packed elimination race to confirm her burgeoning status as one of the velodrome’s potential stars.
The World Championships will be held at the Roubaix Velodrome in the north of France in two weeks, and the second night of action at the Tissot Velodrome will have pleased fans hoping for home success.
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Thomas first produced a commanding performance to secure gold in the men’s points race.
A bronze medallist at Tokyo 2020 in the Madison, the omnium world champion began his tune up for the home defence of his crown at Roubaix with a fine win.
Great Britain’s William Perrett had appeared well-placed to challenge for a medal but was lapped with 30 circuits of the velodrome remaining to plunge from contention after a 20-point deduction.
French time trial champion on the road, Thomas’ eventual winning margin was 20 points, with Portugal’s Iuri Leitao and Vlas Shichkin of Russia completing the podium.
Great Britain’s Neah Evans earned a bronze in a chaotic women’s elimination race marred by two crashes before Fortin's statement victory.
The race was twice paused and restarted, with the second crash particularly hefty and leading to a ten minute delay after three riders hit the deck.
Mylene de Zoete of the Netherlands was the first to fall before Petra Sevickova tumbled nastily over the top of her after her front wheel collided heavily with the Dutchwoman’s ribs.
The Czech rider was taken away on a stretcher, while Norway’s Anita Yvonne Stenberg also could not continue after the incident.
Evans competed well and progressed safely into the medal laps after the restart, but Letizia Paternoster (Italy) and Fortin capitalised on an over-eager attack from Evans to eliminate the Brit and contest the European title.
Fortin, a rising star of French track cycling, took silver in the scratch race on Tuesday and effortlessly eased around the outside of the Italian to secure the gold.
In the men’s one kilometre time trial, Jeffrey Hoogland (Netherlands) took a convincing win by nearly two seconds from teammate Sam Ligtlee.
It marked Hoogland’s tenth European Championships gold after helping the supreme Dutch unit to team sprint victory on the first day of action in Grenchen.

‘He is absolutely flying! - Hoogland powers to 1km time trial gold

In the battle of the British Isles for bronze, Ireland produced an outstanding ride to shock a young Great Britain team and secure a medal.
The Ireland endurance set-up is now coached by Paul Manning, who operated successfully in a similar role at British Cycling before quitting last year.
In the men’s equivalent event, Denmark closed the night with an impressive comeback victory.
Powered by world champion Rasmus Pedersen, the Danish quartet proved too strong as Switzerland failed to capitalise having led at the halfway mark.

Pedersen helps power Denmark to comeback win

The bronze medal race was decided by the finest of margins, with the Tissot timing initally showing a dead heat.
However the raised hands of the British unit revealed their confidence after a strong lunge for the line, and the bronze secured by 0.02 of a second.
In the women’s individual sprint, Lea Sophie Friedrich (Germany), Olena Starikova (Ukraine), Mathilde Gros (France) and Shanne Braspennincx (Netherlands) advanced to the semi-finals.
Braspennincx, who survived a heart attack six years ago and won gold in the keirin at Tokyo 2020, will look to secure a 12th gold for her household - she is the partner of teammate Hoogland.
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