Ireland were first off in the opening session of Round 4 of the Track World Cup – Mia Griffin, Kelly Murphy, Alice Sharpe and Orla Walsh taking to the track for only the second time at this level. Their time of 4:31.762 was a couple of seconds faster than their debut in Berlin – where they’d missed out on a second ride by… a couple of seconds.
Belgium were up next and Lotte Kopecky, Shari Bossuyt, Gilke Croket and Annelies Dom went almost exactly a second faster than the Irish quartet on 4:30.730. Ukraine next – with Anna Nahirna, Oksana Kliachina, Valeriya Kononenko and Ganna Solovey three and a half seconds behind Ireland on 4:35.228.
Korea then breezed past Belgium – Hyunji Kim, Youri Kim, Jumi Lee and Ahreum Na taking five seconds off the benchmark time to go clear at the front. Laurie Berthon, Victoire Berteau, Valentine Fortin and Marie le Net were next for France and they faded in the closing stages, going fourth on 4:32.103.
China couldn’t match France’s time, with Xiaofei Wang, Qiaolin Chen, Jiali Liu and Hong Wang taking fifth spot with a 4:35.144. One more team outside 4:32 and Ireland would make the final eight for the first time.
Poland weren’t going to allow the Irish to make history just yet, although a ragged finish almost did the job. Justyna Kacskowska, Lucja Pietrzak, Daria Pikulil and Nikol Plosaj held on to set a time of 4:30.883. At this stage, Korea, Belgium and Poland were guaranteed a qualifying spot, with Ireland lying fourth.
Lea Lin Teutenberg, Michaela Ebert, Tatjana Paller and Laura Sussemilch of Germany were never really on the pace and when they crossed the line with a time of 4:36.282, history had been made. Ireland were through, with four teams still to ride.
The first of them, the United States – with two World Champions in the line-up – set the fastest time so far. Jenny Valente, Christina Birch, Kelly Catlin and Emma White clocking 4:24.493 – almost a second faster than Korea.
That time only topped the standings for five minutes or so, as Elisa Balsamo, Simona Frapporti, Vittoria Guazzini and Silvia Valsecchi put Italy on top with a 4:24.396. They survived the challenge of Team Breeze – the Great Britain development squad – with Jenny Holl, Josie Knight, Rebecca Raybould and Jessica Roberts going fourth with a 4:26.834 – but it was the senior squad of Elinor Barker, Katie Archibald, Eleanor Dickinson and Laura Kenny that ended the session on top – seven seconds clear of the Italians on 4:17.453.
1 Great Britain (BARKER Elinor, ARCHIBALD Katie, DICKINSON Eleanor, KENNY Laura) 4:17.453
2 Italy (BALSAMO Elisa, FRAPPORTI Simona, GUAZZINI Vittoria, VALSECCHI Silvia)
3 United States (VALENTE Jennifer, BIRCH Christina, CATLIN Kelly, WHITE Emma) 4:24.493
4 Republic of Korea (KIM Hyunji, KIM Youri, LEE Jumi, NA Ahreum) 4:25.362
5 Team Breeze (HOLL Jenny, KNIGHT Josie, RAYBOULD Rebecca, ROBERTS Jessica) 4:26.834
6 Belgium (KOPECKY Lotte, BOSSUYT Shari, CROKET Gilke, DOM Annelies) 4:30.730
7 Poland (KACZKOWSKA Justyna, PIETRZAK Lucja, PIKULIK Daria, PLOSAJ Nikol) 4:30.883
8 Ireland (GRIFFIN Mia, MURPHY Kelly, SHARPE Alice, WALSH Orla) 4:31.762
9 France (BERTHON Laurie, BERTEAU Victoire, FORTIN Valentine, le NET Marie) 4:32.103
10 China (WANG Xiaofei, CHEN Qiaolin, LIU Jiali, WANG Hong) 4:35.144
11 Ukraine (NAHIRNA Anna, KLIACHINA Oksana, KONONENKO Valeriya, SOLOVEI Ganna) 4:35.228
12 Germany (TEUTENBERG Lea Lin, EBERT Michaela, PALLER Tatjana, SUSSEMILCH Laura) 4:36.282
Korea opened the Men’s qualifying session with Jaeyeon Im, Kyeongho Min, Keonwoo Park and Dongin Shin just over a second shy of the ‘magic’ four minute mark with a 4:01.387. China’s Zhiwen Chen, Liang Guo, Pingan Shen and Zhaoliang Xu were some way off that with a 4:12.816.
Belgium fielded an experienced squad and Lyndsay de Vylder, Kenny de Ketele, Robbe Ghys and Fabio van den Bossche did get under the four minute barrier, clocking 3:59.117 for a lead that they would hold for most of the session.
By contrast, the young French squad of Auelien Costeplane, Florentin Lecamus Lambert, Velentin Tebellion and Kevin Vaquelin slotted in between Korea and China with a 4:06.879.
Szymon Krawczyk, Dawid Czubak, Adrian Kaiser and Bratosz Rudyk put Poland into third, a second behind Korea on 4:02.288 – a time Germany couldn’t match – Richard Banusch, Calvin Dik, Kersten Thiele and Justin Wolf going fourth on 4;04.576.
Fourth would become fifth as Denmark – who have been impressive in the early rounds, brought in three younger riders alongside the experienced Casper von Folsach – Oliver Wulff Fredriksen, Julius Johnasen and Matias Malmberg clocking 4:03.466 to go ahead of the Germans.
Italy had a trio of European champions in their line up, but Liam Bertazzo, Francesco Lamon, Davide Plebani and Michele Scartezzini – despite being the second squad under four minutes – could match Belgium’s time and went second on 3:59.401.
The Huub Wattbike Test Team – with Individual Pursuit World Record Holder Ashton Lambie again lining up alongside John Archibald, Daniel Bigham and Jonathan Wale – finally toppled the Belgians, clocking 3:58.398 – with only Great Britain left to ride.
The GB squad of Matthew Walls, Ethan Hayter, William Tidball and Fred Wright showcased the best of the next generation of British riders and, in the early stages they looked to be in contention, before fading slightly at the end to finish fifith on 4:01.557.
1 Huub Wattbike Test Team (ARCHIBALD John, BIGHAM Daniel, LAMBIE Ashton, WALE Jonathan) 3:58.398
2 Belgium (de VYLDER Lindsay, de KETELE Kenny, GHYS Robbe, van den BOSSCHE Fabio) 3:59.117
3 Italy (BERTAZZO Liam, LAMON Francesco, PLEBANI Davide, SCARTEZZINI Michele) 3:59.401
4 Republic of Korea (IM Jaeyeon, MIN Kyeongho, PARK Keonwoo, SHIN Dongin) 4:01.387
5 Great Britain (WALLS Matthew, HAYTER Ethan, TIDBALL William, WRIGHT Fred) 4:01.557
6 Poland (KRAWCZYK Szymon, CZUBAK Dawid, KAISER Adrian, RUDYK Bartosz) 4:02.288
7 Denmark (von FOLSACH Casper, FREDERIKSEN Oliver Wulff, JOHANSEN Julius, MALMBERG Matias Gunnar) 4:03.466
8 Germany (BANUSCH Richard, DIK Calvin, THIELE Kersten, WOLF Justin) 4:04.576
9 France (COSTEPLANE Aurelien, LECAMUS LAMBERT Florentin, TABELLION Valentin, VAUQUELIN Kevin) 4:05.879
10 China (CHEN Zhiwen, GUO Liang, SHEN Pingan, XU Zhaoliang) 4:12.816