Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Belgian superstar Jolien D’hoore made history this weekend, as she was crowned the first ever European Champion in the Madison, along with compatriot Lotte Kopecky, on the track at Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, on the outskirts of Paris, France. The Madison event - where one rider circles the top of the track while the other races, until the two exchange places with a handling - was previously been a men-only event; the Women’s Madison has been part of National Championships in the past, as well as a number of exhibition events, but this was the first ever international competition.
“It was the first time ever that a women’s madison was held as a European Championships,” D’hoore explained. “So of course everyone was keen to be crowned as the first European Champion. It was also my main goal to participate the Euros.”
The Belgian pair took the lead at the halfway point of the 30km race, as they won the sixth of 12 sprints, and continued to widen their advantage over the rest. A late challenge from the British pair of Emily Kay and Emily Nelson saw them take the Silver Medal from the Netherlands team of Nina Kessler and Kirsten Wild, but D’hoore and Kopecky’s total of 36 points was enough to win them the Gold Medal - and the European Champion’s jersey - by a ten-point margin.
“Me and Lotte rode the perfect race,” D’hoore continued. “We gained points in every sprint. In the end we just needed to control the race so nobody could take a lap. It was actually the first time we rode together in a madison and we blended really well together. I’m already looking forward to the World Championships for that event. And hopefully it will become an olympic event as well!”
The Madison Gold was not D’hoore’s first Medal of the Championships, as she had also taken Silver in Friday’s Points Race; losing to Wild by just a single point. Since winning her Bronze Medal in the Olympic Omnium in Rio, in August, the multiple Belgian Champion has been focussed on road racing - including a victory in September’s Madrid Challenge by la Vuelta a España - but this proved that she still possessed the necessary leg speed to be competitive on the track.
“Two days before I also did the points race,” D’hoore said. “I had to adapt a little from all the training and racing on the road. But I still managed to put myself in a good position during the race. In the end I became second with a few millimetres short from gold. A shame… but that gave me the motivation to go for gold in the Madison!”
After a long season focused on the track D’hoore will once again switch to racing full time on the road for Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling next season. As an Olympic Medallist in the Omnium - which has been given a format change by the International Cycling Union (UCI) - and now the European Madison Champion, however, she still carries some track ambitions into 2017.
“Now I will enjoy the off season… finally!” D’hoore laughed. “No more track World Cups for me this winter, but I have marked the World Championships in Hong-Kong in my agenda for next year.
“So for now some rest and then time to prepare myself for the upcoming road season.”
1. Belgium (Jolien D’hoore and Lotte Kopecky)
2. Great Britain (Emily Kay and Emily Nelson)
3. Netherlands (Nina Kessler and Kirsten Wild)
Result Points Race
1. Kirsten Wild (Netherlands)
2. Jolien D’hoore (Belgium)
3. Katarzyna Pawlowska (Poland)