Iuri Leitao made history when he claimed Portugal’s first-ever world title in track cycling by winning the men’s omnium event in Glasgow on Sunday.
The 25-year-old was dominant throughout the multi-discipline competition, winning the scratch race and tempo race before getting a runners-up place in the elimination race.
With a comfortable cushion to take into the final points race, Leitao stayed out of trouble and held off the challenge of France’s two-time omnium world champion Benjamin Thomas.
“For us, it’s a really important step,” Leitao, who won with 187 points to the 185 of Thomas, told Reuters after emotional scenes with his team at trackside.
“We have a little bit more than a decade of track cycling, and being the world champion of, in my opinion, the biggest race in the UCI World Championships is unbelievable. It’s really a big step up for us.”
Asked how he had responded to the pressure of leading the competition, he said: “I didn’t feel too good after the elimination race, so I tried to take it a little bit easy in the points race. I had a big gap so I could manage a little bit the points and after that, it was full gas 12 kilometres.”
Portugal has a pedigree in road cycling but, with only one velodrome in the country, track cycling is a poor relation.
But Leitao, who also rides on the road with UCI ProTeam Caja Rural–Seguros RGA, hopes that will change after a superbly controlled display earned him gold when the target had been merely to get in the top 10.
“When I started in the track, we had a small team. Now we have a lot of young riders so I think we have given a little bit of motivation to them.
“And it’s really good to be to be a world champion in giving hope to the new generation.
- Mexican Open: Second-seeded Holger Rune eases past American Michael Mmoh
- Argentina to play exhibition against Costa Rica instead of Nigeria in Los Angeles on March 26
- A low-ranked American tennis player banned after testing positive for marijuana at a tournament
- Man Utd boss Ten Hag doesn’t want Ratcliffe vote of confidence
- Bundesliga boss says rejection of investor deal ‘bad for the league’