All roads lead to Paris as track stars get final outing

Familiar names ramp up to the Paris 2024 boards as the MTB riders begin their World Cup seasons ahead of this summer's Games.

Kit Nicholson
by Kit Nicholson 15.04.2024 Photography by
Cor Vos
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It’s been a busy few days for those with a view to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. The Milton Nations Cup represented the last international track competition before the summer, and the opening round of the 2024 MTB World Cup provided a first opportunity for mountain bikers to show themselves as the Olympic qualification window narrows.

On the track, after an uncharacteristically poor and/or unlucky couple of seasons, the British men – for decades the powerhouse Pursuit squad each Olympiad – has been in need of nothing but top-tier results, and in Canada they added another gold to their European and Adelaide titles, alongside the GB women who have rarely dipped beneath superb. Ethan Hayter (who rides on the road for Ineos Grenadiers) also plied his trade in the Omnium where he’s a two-time World and European champion. He and Katie Archibald brought home Omnium gold medals for GB in what was another great competition for the rejuvenated nation.

Recent Paris-Roubaix runner-up Elisa Balsamo also featured for Italy, gaining a silver medal in the Team Pursuit and taking fourth alongside Vittoria Guazzini in the Madison. Just ahead of them, taking the bronze, was the USA pairing of Jennifer Valente and Lily Williams.

The home riders also had a solid Nations Cup, with former Scratch world champion Dylan Bibic (who previously took the Track Champions League endurance title) winning the Elimination in dramatic fashion – he played ‘devil’ by hovering at the back of the group and darting forward to ambush his rivals in each elimination sprint – and finishing just off the podium in the Omnium. The Omnium would be the only event he can hope to contest at what would be a first Olympic Games where he will turn 21 just two days prior to the start of competition.

Over on the sprint side, his compatriots scored bronze behind the British lads in silver and an unstoppable Netherlands team in their rainbow bands. Among their number was Harrie Lavreysen, who after three days of competition had completed a hattrick of gold medals, adding Keirin and individual sprint to his team gong on the first night.

The Aussie team opted not to make the trip to Canada where their sprinters and Pursuit squads would likely have had their say, but with sturdy results behind them already, their Olympic build-up is looking in good shape already.

Over in Mairiporã, Brazil, the MTB World Cup kicked off earlier than usual in the build-up to the Olympic Games – Ryan Simonovich has the lowdown on the upcoming MTB events in his preview – without a few big names including Puck Pieterse, Mathieu van der Poel and reigning Olympic champ Tom Pidcock who are all keeping busy on the road.

As usual, the event kicked off with the short track events on Saturday where GB’s Evie Richards and New Zealand’s Sam Gaze took defiant wins over the fast track. Then Sunday’s XCO saw 2016 Olympic champion Jenny Rissveds and young American titan Christopher Blevins score big wins in this most significant of seasons.

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