Elinor Barker finally switched a Six Day Cycling board for some world championship bling as the Amsterdam and Mallorca champion put on an exhibition of points race riding to win gold in Hong Kong.
It was another day of success for Six Day Series riders, too, with Czech sprinter Tomas Babek taking joint silver in the kilo while Frenchmen Benjamin Thomas and Morgan Kneisky closed the event with gold in the Madison.
That was a second gold for Thomas in as many days, but for Barker she was just desperate to get a first after silver medals in the scratch race and Madison during the week.
“I’m incredibly happy, so, so happy. I’ve had two silvers this week and until the last lap it looked like it was going to be another silver,” she admitted.
“So I was already a little bit heartbroken at that though, but I’m so relieved that I’ve got a gold.
“The crowd were amazing and I’ve got a lot of teammates who came to see me, came to trackside to see me.
“I could hear them all the way round, it was great.
“It was really, really, hard, she’s such a tough competitor and was really hard to race against.
“I just somehow had some legs for the last five laps.
“I had to use my sprint a little bit earlier to catch up to her, and then it was just a case of trying to hold on.”
Eternal bridesmaid no more 🎉🎉🎉 pic.twitter.com/mSULXpwvKR— Elinor Barker (@elinorbarker) April 16, 2017
Barker failed to score in the opening three sprints, but won the third and straight away set about taking a lap on the field, alongside five-time individual pursuit World Champion Hammer.
In doing so the Brit also won the next sprint, establishing a commanding lead over all but her American rival, meaning the pair would mark each other for the remaining 50 laps.
Hammer was the next to get away, gaining a lap and taking the lead, but Barker set off in pursuit and with laps rapidly ticking away, she took the lap herself and assumed the gold medal position.
Three laps later a burst of speed saw her finish sixth in the final sprint, six places clear of Hammer and more than enough to seal victory.
Earlier, in the kilo time trial Babek qualified fourth fastest for the final with fellow Six Day sprinter Joachim Eilers just making the evening showdown in eighth place.
The German set an early fastest time but Babek soon overtook him, clocking 1:01.048 and looked set for gold until the final two riders went.
France’s Quentin Lafargue matched his time, to the thousandth of a second, before his compatriot Francois Pervis blew the two away by 0.334s, meaning Babek - Six Day Malorca champion - shared the silver medal.
And there was more French success in the final race of the week, with Thomas and Kneisky - who finished second in last year’s world Madison race behind a certain Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish - grinding their way to a rainbow jersey.
Australia’s Callum Scotson and Cameron Meyer finished second, just four points behind the winners on 41 points, with Kenny de Ketele and Moreno de Pauw completing an all Six Day Series podium after racking up 32 for third place.
The Belgians went for the biggest attack of the day, and were nearly successful in gaining a lap, but with the new UCI format of the race including sprints every ten laps, the race came back together and none of the leading teams were able to spring a successful break.
That meant the race came down to sprint points, with the Frenchmen timing their changeovers and efforts to perfection to win the 15th, 16th and 17th sprints, laying a platform for victory.
Further down the Madison field Casper von Folsach and Niklas Larsen finished fourth for Denmark, with Switzerland’s Tristan Marguet and Claudio Imhof finishing fifth.
In fact, ten of the 15 pairs in the race included Six Day Series experience, with Spain, the Netherlands and Germany finishing seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively.
But the British and Austrian pairings found the relentless pace too hot to handle, and were forced out of the race before the finish having fallen three laps behind on the field.