Wearing their rainbow jerseys for the first time in competition, Chloe Dygert, Jennifer Valente, and Kelly Catlin of the USA won gold in the women's team pursuit as well.

Photo gallery: 2017 UCI Track World Cup, Los Angeles

by Casey Gibson

Among the highlights of the fourth and final round of the 2016-2017 Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Cup, held over the February 25-26 weekend in Carson, California, was the sight of young American Chloe Dygert, a junior world road and time-trial champion, taking gold in her first attempt at the individual pursuit.

The event was held at the Velo Sports Center at StubHub Center, the only permanent indoor velodrome in the U.S, located on the campus of California State University, Dominguez Hills.

A sold-out crowd cheered more than 200 of the world’s top track cyclists on the opening night as the U.S. Women’s Team Pursuit squad of Dygert, Kelly Catlin, Kimberly Geist, and Jennifer Valente posted a time of 4:19.990 to beat New Zealand in the final.

“We didn’t field a team at the first three World Cups and there’s kind of a lull after the Olympics,” said Valente, who was a member of the silver-medal winning squad in Rio de Janeiro. “We came back for this home World Cup and really wanted to show what we can do a year later. And, we did that. We came out strong and showed what we’re capable of. Two things are really special about this. Number one, it’s the only opportunity we will have to race in the World Championship stripes, which is something that is special for anybody. Then, being at a home World Cup is incredible.”

The rainbow jersey proved successful for women throughout the weekend. Russians Daria Shmeleva and Anastasiia Voinova, riding for the Gazprom-RusVelo team, won the team sprint world title last year and crossed the line first again on the opening night with a time of 32.835 to defeat Canada.

“It seems rainbow power works for me,” said Germany’s Kristina Vogel, the reigning world champion in the Women’s Keirin, who won the event at back-to-back World Cups — claiming gold in Cali, Colombia, and again in California.

A new track record was set during morning qualifying when Denis Dmitriev, representing Gazprom-Rusvelo, and New Zealand’s Ethan Mitchell recorded matching sub 10-second times of 9.850 in the Flying 200-meter time trial as part of Men’s Sprint qualifying. The two riders are tied for the new record, previously held by U.S. rider Jimmy Watkins (10.018 set in 2012). Dmitriev went on to win gold in the Men’s Sprint during the evening session, edging out Germany’s Max Niederlag in the decider race.

Other winners on the first night were Yauheni Karaliok of Belarus, who won the Men’s Scratch race, and Szymon Sajnok from Poland, who claimed gold in the Men’s Omnium.

Chloe Dygert celebrates her first win in the women’s pursuit in front of the home crowd and family.

The following day, New Zealand took home the event trophy, the French team finished with the 2016-2017 Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Cup overall title, and Dygert made her Individual Pursuit debut in grand fashion, recording a track record time of 3:28.431 to win gold. Dygert’s ride broke a decade-old mark set by her teammate and mentor Sarah Hammer. It was the fastest women’s Individual Pursuit time this World Cup season.

“Coming here, I had no idea what to expect,” Dygert said. “I had done some training in the event, and it was really great to have Sarah [Hammer] here as the race is kind of her specialty – she helped me nail in what I should be doing in order to get a fast time. I couldn’t have done it without her help.”

Vogel clocked 10.896 in the Women’s Flying 200-meter time trial during qualifying to also set a new track record; she went on to win the Women’s Sprint gold medal.

New Zealand’s reigning World Champion Men’s Sprint Team of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster, and Eddie Dawkins set a track record of 43.588 during qualifying, and continued on their hot streak to win gold. The Kiwi contingent finished the weekend with 16 total medals to claim the Los Angeles World Cup trophy. Ten of 11 New Zealand riders won medals, medaling in nine of 13 races.

“It’s been awesome. It’s great to start the new Olympic cycle with a win here in LA,” said Dawkins. “We came away with our best-ever medal haul and our first ever World Cup series win for the team.

Colombia’s Fabian Hernando Puerta Zapata won his second consecutive Men’s Keirin World Cup race. In the Men’s Madison, the Irish duo of Felix English and Mark Downey shot across the line for gold.

Australia’s Amy Cure, a two-time Olympian, and teammate Alexandra Manly went the distance to win the Women’s Madison. The Women’s Scratch Race was won by Tetyana Klimchenko from Ukraine.

France captured the overall World Cup title on cumulative points. “It’s good for the French team because we don’t win this award every year. It is very difficult to win,” said French rider Francois Pervis. “It was the work of everybody, the staff and the riders. It gives us confidence, and it’s good for the riders. We can work over the next month with less stress, and focus on what we need to do to win at the World Championships.”

Track cycling competition continues at the Velo Sports Center with the March 2-5 2017 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships. It will be the first time in the history of para-cycling that a UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships will be held the season following the Paralympic Games.

Complete results from the weekend can be found here.

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