Endurance cyclist Mark Stewart won Team Scotland’s fourth gold medal in the Anna Meares Velodrome in Brisbane tonight to bring the curtain down on the track events of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and see Scotland sit second on the Cycling medal table.
Stewart put in the performance of his life in the Men’s 40km Points Race to complete a successful day on the boards that also saw Neah Evans take silver in the Women’s 10km Scratch Race and Callum Skinner win bronze in the Men’s 1000m Time Trial.
A successful day’s racing, that ensured ‘Flower of Scotland’ was aired on every night of competition, took the team’s tally to ten medals across the four-day event (four gold, four silver, and two bronze).
Stewart said: “This is definitely up there with one of the good days. I knew going into this race that the Individual Pursuit and the Scratch Race were just activations for today and it worked. It doesn’t always but it did today, and I still can’t believe it.”
Stewart led for the majority of arguably the most gripping race the Games had seen to date, with the palpable, post-race exhaustion of the winner a stark illustration of his commitment to a race set at a blistering pace.
Critical to his success were the three, 20-point bonus points collected throughout the 160-lap encounter, combined with point-scoring finishes in six of the 16 opportunities available to racers every ten laps.
Despite leading the race from early on, Stewart was rarely out of sight of New Zealand rival Campbell Stewart, who secured a maximum five points from each of the last seven sprints as the race drew to a climax.
It was then, with double points on offer in the last lap, that Stewart delivered his fitting finale, timing his last effort to perfection on the final bend to round and outscore his opponent and guarantee the gold.
Stewart added: “This was the first time ever I’ve been able to sing on the podium. It was a nice moment. The European Championships are at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow this August, which now a target and it’s nice to go into that with a Commonwealth title on my back.”
Earlier in the evening, Katie Archibald, Neah Evans and Eileen Roe were in the multi-start, straight final of the Women’s 10km Scratch race, with Evans finishing as runner-up behind Australia’s Amy Cure to add to yesterday’s bronze in Women’s 25km Points Race, with Archibald in fourth and Roe finishing 22nd.
She said: “I’m really happy. I had had to work quite hard to close a gap, having been caught on the back foot a bit. I was hoping to get to the front sooner and dominate but the speed they were putting down made it really difficult to move up the field.
“Coming into the Games I’d have been delighted with a silver and a bronze. I was much more focused on my performance than results. I felt I rode much better tonight, so I’m pleased to have made an improvement.”
The third medal of the evening came in the Men’s 1000m Time Trial, where Callum Skinner put in an impressive 1:01.083 time to come third.
The Olympic medallist’s world standing was recognised by his listing as the penultimate rider, with his four-lap time edging teammate Jonathan Wale out of the top three into fifth.
Skinner admitted to have struggled to recapture his Rio 2016 silver medal-winning form, but he was pleased to see his race times turning in the right direction.
“I’ve had the odd result here and there but I’m not at the pace I want to be at the moment, or getting the results that I want, but to pick up little markers to show we’re getting back to where we want to be is quite encouraging. This is another stepping stone towards Tokyo [2020 Olympics].
“My PB is zero-zero-seven [1:00.7] so I’m a bit off that but, despite being a little bit up and down, to come away with third means I’m happy enough.
“It’s been a very long season, so we’ll look at what we’ve done well and what we’ve done badly and see where we can improve. That’s what we’re about, continuous improvement and working on our weaknesses.”
The day’s racing concludes Team Scotland’s cyclists time on the velodrome track, with many of the riders now checking into the Games Village to begin preparations for the Men and Women’s Individual Time Trial (Tuesday10 April) and Road Race (Saturday 14 April) at the Currumbin beach front.