Matthew Richardson (Australia) pipped Harrie Lavreysen (Netherlands) to the Men’s Sprint title in an epic finale that saw the league decided by a photo finish in London.
Richardson had a two-point lead going into the night but was clearly second-best to Lavreysen in the individual sprint.
However, he turned it around by winning the keirin by centimetres which was enough to put him back at the top of the standings after a thrilling series battle between both riders, who won every sprint event this year.
“I had two thoughts in my mind. Either get as much distance between me and Harrie as possible and go early.
“But the pace was on as soon as the bike came off so I decided to stay and wait. I knew that was my best bet.
“Shout out to my family that are here. Thanks to everyone.”
Lavreysen beats Richardson to take Men’s Sprint lead
Richardson avoided a big scare by sneaking through his individual sprint heat as he was pushed hard by Dutchman Jeffrey Hoogland, who nearly did his compatriot a favour.
Lavreysen was also pushed towards his limit in the semi-finals, but came around the top of Kevin Quintero (Colombia) and Stefan Botticher (Germany) to set up a fifth consecutive clash between the two title protagonists in the final.
Like their other battles, it was a pulsating race as Lavreysen led Richardson out and stayed ahead to take the lead in the sprint standings by a point with just the keirin left.
Both riders came through their heats in first place to qualify for the final. It was a winner-takes-all situation with Lavreysen leading Richardson out again on the final lap.
This time, Richardson got alongside and overtook his rival on the line in a photo finish in the most dramatic of endings anyone could imagine to the sprint series.
In the Women’s Sprint, Mathilde Gros (France) all but assured the title when her closest challenger coming into the night, Canada’s Kelsey Mitchell, surprisingly failed to reach the keirin semi-finals.
Meanwhile, Gros appeared to smartly save her legs by not properly contesting the final as she finished in last.
Martha Bayona (Colombia) won the race from the Netherlands’ Shanne Braspennincx, who became Gros’ main rival at eight points behind, which was a big ask to overcome.
Gros becomes the champion with semi-final sprint win
As expected, Gros had been holding back in the keirin as she came out flying in the individual sprint and her win in the semi-final confirmed she was the new champion.
She celebrated the league win in style by fighting past Mitchell in the final to pip her on the line.
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