Valente Wins First Elite Individual World Title
October 14, 2022
Koontz has the best placing for Team USA in Men’s Points Race World Championship in 13 years.
October 14, 2022, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, FRA /ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – Jennifer Valente (San Diego; Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24) made her mark on the cycling world on Friday, winning her first individual elite world title at the 2022 UCI Track World Championships, and became one of the few riders to claim both World Champion and Olympic Champion concurrently. When asked about winning this event and at the Tokyo Games, Valente said, “Winning this event was certainly a goal, well before the Olympics. I achieved the Olympic dream before this one, but this really had been on the forefront of my mind for a long time. I’m really pleased with this win.”
While this is Valente’s first individual Elite World Championship win, she shares four Team Pursuit world titles with her teammates. She said, “It definitely means a lot. The team gold medal is special in a completely different way. Every team world title that I’ve won has been with a really special group of people. But this is just a completely different experience.”
In addition to Valente’s outstanding performance, Grant Koontz (Nederland, Colo.; Star Track) raced to sixth in the Men’s Points Race, the best an American has placed at a World Championship since 2009.
The Omnium is a four-in-one best all-around endurance event, where riders work to gain the most points throughout a Scratch Race, Tempo Race, Elimination Race, and Points Race. Valente wore the red, white, and blue of the U.S. to take on the event where she won Olympic gold. Starting with the Scratch Race, Valente showed up ready to race. Sitting towards the back of the peloton until five laps remained, she followed Maike van der Duin (NED) to the front and attacked immediately, taking the win.
In the second event, the Tempo Race, Valente had a more challenging time as a group of five riders took off late in the race. The group pushed themselves to gain a lap, each earning 20 points and taking a significant jump on the rest of the field. Again, Valente reacted, but not before the final bell ended the race. She was sixth in the race earning nine points.
In the evening session, Valente dominated the third event of the Omnium, the Elimination Race, in which she earned a Bronze on Thursday. With three laps to go, it was down to the race leader, van der Duin, Elisa Balsamo (ITA), and Valente. Valente outpaced both riders over the next four laps with a massive burst of speed to secure her win in the event.
Valente used skillful tactics to control the race in the final event of the Omnium, the Points Race. She took a point sprint early on, allowing her to ride more defensively through the remainder of the race. At the halfway point, Valente marked van der Duin as her closest competition and did not let her out of sight. In the penultimate sprint, she managed to keep van der Duin at bay long enough to ensure her victory.
When asked what it means to race the Omnium, Valente said, “The [Omnium] is an overall event. People have good races and bad races, and you just have to be consistent. The most consistent rider is the one that wins. Sometimes that means winning individual events. Sometimes it doesn’t.”
The race was hard fought for Valente, she said, “There’s no cruising in this race. There was a lot of tough competition. A lot of up-and-coming young riders. A lot of people ready to really dig deep and go hard, to put their name on the board, to be a favorite at the next race.”
1. Jennifer Valente (USA) – 118 pts
2. Maike van der Duin (NED) – 109 pts.
3. Maria Martins (POR) – 99 pts.
Men’s Points Race
Representing Team USA for the first time at the World Championships level, the Pan-American Champion Koontz toed the line for the 160-lap Men’s Points Race. Koontz attacked early in the race, with approximately 115-laps left. Koontz and a group of six stayed away from the group for 25 laps, picking up points in two field sprints while off the front. He added 20 points to his total when the group took the lap after the fourth sprint. Koontz took another lap with the leaders Yoeri Havik (NED), Roger Kluge (GER), Fabio van den Boosche (BEL), Corbin Strong (NZL), and William Perrett (GBR) after the sprint at 30 to go. Koontz held his position through the end of the race and finished with the leaders, earning sixth place. His result is the best placing for a U.S. rider since 2009, when Colby Pearce placed sixth in the event in the World Championships in Pruskow, Poland.
1. Yoeri Havik (NED) – 76 pts.
2. Roger Kluge (GER) – 67 pts.
3. Faboio van den Bossche (BEL) – 64 pts.
6. Grant Koontz (USA) – 47 pts.
Men’s Individual Pursuit
In their World Championship debut, Brendan Rhim (Norwich, Vt.; Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling) and Anders Johnson (Huntsville, Utah) raced against the clock in the Men’s Individual Pursuit. Going early in the heats, both riders set good times with 4:20.165 and 4:21.726, respectively. Unfortunately, no one was a match for Filippo Ganna (ITA), who set the time of 4:00.693, blowing away the rest of the field and later breaking American Ashton Lambie’s world record in the gold medal match.
1. Filippo Ganna (ITA) – 3:59.636
2. Jonathan Milan (ITA) – 4:03.790
3. Ivo Manuel Alves Oliveria (POR) – 4:08.738
19. Brendan Rhim (USA) – 4:20.165
22. Anders Johnson (USA) – 4:21.726
Saturday morning kicks off with Gavin Hoover (Manhattan Beach, Calif.; L39ion of Los Angeles) taking on the Men’s Omnium event. Next, Shayna Powless (Roseville, Calif.; L39ion of Los Angeles) takes on her first individual event in the Individual Pursuit. Megan Jastrab (Apple Valley, Calif.; Team DSM) and Lily Williams (Tallahassee, Fla.; Human Powered Health) team up to conquer the 120-lap Madison.
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