Jennifer Valente good as gold in Glasgow with third world title

Jen Valente in action in the women's Omnium
Jennifer Valente in action in the women's Omnium (Image credit: Getty Images)

Olympic champion Jennifer Valente claimed her second consecutive title in the UCI Track World Championships Omnium in Glasgow on Wednesday, racing with poise and focus throughout the four-race event. 

It was her second victory in the 2023 track championships after taking the Scratch Race last Friday.

"The Omnium is always a special world title, in a way that it feels different from the Scratch Race earlier in the week," Valente said after celebrating her win.

"I was taking each race one step at a time and definitely the first three events riding my own race. I was focusing on riding the best race possible and not worrying about what anyone else was doing and putting it all together at the end."

The 28-year-old waited patiently in the first event of the Omnium, the Scratch Race, as New Zealand's Ally Wollaston lapped the field, knowing the effort to chase two extra points was not worth it in a schedule compressed into just three hours. 

Then in the Tempo Race, after France's Valentine Fortin attacked solo to sweep up the early points and lap the field Valente duplicated the feat and gained enough points to seal the top spot.

The one place where Valente showed some nerves was in the crash-plagued Elimination Race but she sailed through to the final four before Belgian Lotte Kopecky attacked and Valente cruised to second place, heading into the final Points Race with a lead of 20 points in the standings.

"In that race I was really happy I didn't hit the deck - a lot of people went down. Again, it was paying attention to what was happening in the race, when it was neutral and when they were actually pulling someone. I think we went neutral three times in a row."

Crashes continued in the Points Race but Valente managed to avoid them again and fend off all of her challengers. 

After a handful of riders lapped the field, Valente surged away to take the lap back, then marked all the remaining moves, only getting involved in the eight sprints when she needed to keep rivals like Wollaston, second-placed Amalie Dideriksen (Denmark) or bronze medalist Lotte Kopecky (Belgium) in check.

"It was a very aggressive race, and a lot of people trying to go for laps. I was really trying to keep my eyes open and try to understand what was happening in the race at every moment," Valente told Cyclingnews.

Without the usual break between the Scratch Race and the rest of the programme, riders had to choose when to spend their energy, and Valente's well-metred riding paid off in gold.

"It certainly changed the way everyone raced, without a six or seven-hour break in the middle of the day. Everyone's in the same boat - the same way I'm hurting at the end of the points race, everyone is hurting in that scenario. It's something we train for, we train multiple efforts in a session to back it up like this."

As the defending Omnium Olympic Champion prepares for the next Games in Paris in 2024, she has demonstrated that Tokyo was no fluke. Earlier in the week, however, the fortunes did not turn for the USA when their team pursuit squad missed making the medal finals.

Valente would not say what had gone wrong for the team that claimed bronze in Tokyo. 

"I think we're all bike racers and everyone lines up wanting to try our hardest. We ended up sixth and that's where we were on the day," she said.

With one year to go until Paris, the USA's team pursuit squad is now without Tokyo medalists Megan Jastrab, who is focusing on her road career with Team dsm-Firmenich, and without Emma White, who retired in 2021. Newcomer Olivia Cummins has since joined the team.

The combined Super World Championships, where team pursuiter and individual pursuit world champion Chloé Dygert is racing the time trial and road race on top of track racing, may have factored into the configuration. 

Jastrab emphasised how having both disciplines is important for Paris.

"This Super Worlds is a really big part of the Olympic build, and certainly for Olympic qualifying points for our discipline and for other events - team pursuit and Madison and Omnium," she said. 

"The closer we get to the Olympics, all the Olympic events are the priority."

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