Tokyo Olympics: Laura Kenny and Katie Archibald win ‘unbelievable’ gold in historic Madison race

Laura Kenny becomes the most successful female cyclist in Olympic history as she took gold at a third consecutive games.

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Laura Kenny and Katie Archibald blew away the competition to take gold for Great Britain in the first ever Olympic women’s Madison.

It was a fifth career Olympic gold for Kenny, who surpassed Dutchwoman Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel to become the most successful female cyclist in Olympic history as she took gold at a third consecutive Games.

She now also moves clear of Charlotte Dujardin as the British female with the most gold medals.

Both riders were part of the team pursuit squad that settled for silver on Tuesday, beaten by a Germany team who twice broke the world record during competition.

Archibald said: “I’ve been dreaming about this. I’ve never wanted something so much and I’ve never been so nervous. But we’ve been clinical in our approach.

“I’d like to thank our coach Monica (Greenwood). None of this would have happened without Monica. She overhauled our approach to this event.”

Kenny and Archibald won 10 of the 12 sprints – including the double points for the last lap – and also gained a lap on the field to finish with 78 points, more than twice the tally of second-placed Denmark on 35.

Kenny had spoken before the build-up about the amount of detail they had gone into in preparing for the race and it paid off as their execution of the plan surpassed any reasonable expectation in an event known for chaos out on track.

The British pair wasted little time asserting their dominance in the race as they beat the Dutch pairing of Kirsten Wild and Amy Pieters – double world champions – in the first three sprints, taking it in turns as Archibald won the first and Kenny the second.

Australia took the fourth sprint and would soon play spoiler in the race as they disrupted a Dutch hand-sling to send Wild crashing to the ground with a little over 70 laps to go.

Though Wild got back to her bike the Dutch challenge faded, with Archibald and Kenny peeling off the front, first with the French, then with the Danish and Russian Olympic Committee teams to keep collecting points.

And their lead expected further when they were awarded 20 points for gaining a lap with a little over 20 remaining – effectively signalling to the competition that there would be no way back.

Denmark and the Russians also gained a lap, pushing the Dutch pair down into fourth place and out of the medals.

“It’s a bummer,” Wild said. “We were doing a good race in second place. Britain usually starts fast and we usually get better in second half. After that crash I didn’t recover.”

This is the first ever running of the women’s Madison, with the event also returning to the men’s programme for the first time since 2008.

The event’s introduction had led to a fierce battle for selection within the British squad over recent years.

Former coach Paul Manning tried several different pairings – 14 were used in 20 UCI events since the last Games – but when Monica Greenwood took over the women’s endurance squad in December last year she immediately selected Archibald and Kenny.

Over the next few months, added weight was given to preparing for the bunch races, which previously played second fiddle to the pursuiting in planning for the Games.

Unable to race properly during lockdown the pair, who won gold together at the World Cup in London in December 2018 and European silver in October 2019, took to training against Britain’s men’s under-23s to hone the plan which would deliver gold in Izu.