LONDON (Reuters) - Last weeks’s track world championships was seen as a dress-rehearsal for the Tokyo Olympics. This is what we learned from the five days of action.
DANES LEAVE BRITAIN AND AUSTRALIA PLAYING CATCH-UP
The team pursuit is often billed as a battle for supremacy between Britain and Australia but after Berlin both nations appear to have been left trailing.
Britain did not even manage a medal in the men’s event and their best time of 3:50.341 was almost identical to their gold medal ride in Rio four years ago, then a world record.
Denmark broke the world record three times in Berlin, lowering it to 3:44.672. In the bronze medal ride Italy clocked 3:47.511 to thrash Australia, catching them on the track.
Australia’s women, world champions in 2019, did not medal, while Olympic champions Britain were overpowered by the United States in the final.
American Chloe Dygert was sensational in Berlin, powering her team to gold in the women’s team pursuit and then smashing the world record in the individual event, which unfortunately for her is no longer an Olympic event.
The 23-year-old powerhouse, who rides in bright pink socks and shoes, turned both events into a masterclass, just as she did the time trial at the road world championships last year in Yorkshire, when she outclassed a Dutch armada.
With her on board the U.S. could end Britain’s Olympic domination in team pursuit in Tokyo, and it would be no surprise if she emulated her coach Kristin Armstrong, TT champion in Rio, by winning on the road too.
Dutchmen ruled supreme in the men’s sprints in Berlin, turning the events into a high-speed orange procession.
Harrie Lavreysen, Jeffrey Hoogland and Roy van den Berg broke the world record twice en route to winning the team sprint on day one, eclipsing Jason Kenny’s British trio.
Lavreysen won the individual title, as he did in 2019, beating Hoogland in the final, and he also won the keirin.
Britain can only hope their new bike, which will be ready for Tokyo, can be their secret weapon.
With reigning Olympic champion Kristina Vogel, now paralyzed after a 2018 crash, watching on in the Berlin velodrome, the leader of a new vanguard of German sprinters came of age.
Emma Hinze, just 22, was unbeatable all week, winning three golds in Olympic events — sprint, team sprint and keirin — as Germany finished second behind the Dutch in the medals table with four golds, all from the women’s events.
With Lea Friedrich, 20, taking the 500m time trial title, the future looks rosy for the German track team.
Yumi Kajihara became the first Japanese woman to win a world track title with a sensational sequence of rides in the omnium.
The 22-year-old beat a high-class field, including Olympic champion Laura Kenny and 2019 world champion Kirsten Wild.
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar