Esow wins India its third medal at Junior Track Cycling World Championships

Esow Alben won India its third medal at the Junior Track Cycling World Championships in Frankfurt, Germany by winning silver in the Men’s Sprint individual event. Alben, who got the better of Germany’s Julien Jager in the best-of-three-races format in the semi-finals, took on Greece’s Konstantinos Livanos in the gold-medal match. Like in the semi-final, the Indian came from behind to win the second race and force a decider but could not win a second straight deciding race. Daan Kool of the Netherlands beat Jager to win bronze.

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Indian junior men’s team comprising Alben, Ronaldo Singh, James Singh and Rojit Singh created history as they won the gold medal in the Team Sprint event in Junior Track Cycling World Championships. Alben then added to India’s tally by winning bronze in the men’s keirin final. Greece’s Konstantinos Livanos won gold and Australia’s Sam Gallagher won silver.

Originating in Japan, the keirin is a sprint event in which, unlike traditional two-person track cycling sprints, six riders take to the track behind a small moped called a derny. As the derny paces the riders in the initial laps of the race, the riders jostle for the best position while making sure to stay behind the back wheel of the derny. The pacer typically departs with one to two laps remaining, after which the riders line up for the sprint to the finish. With the team sprint win, India registered its first-ever cycling gold at the world level.

The Indian junior team, currently ranked number two in the world behind Malaysia, edged past Australia by 0.056 seconds in the final lap to clinch the top spot as they clocked a total 44.625 seconds. The Australian team, who were leading in the first two laps, were left stunned as India finished the last lap in the final in just 12.915 seconds.

In the team sprint, teams of three race over three laps and each rider in the team must lead for one lap of the race. In the case of a tie (to the closest one-thousandth of a second), the team with the fastest time over the last lap is declared the winner.

Earlier in the day, the Indian team had finished first in the Team Sprint qualifiers, clocking 45.094 seconds to finish ahead of Australia (45.162) and eventual bronze medallists Great Britain (45.355).

India recorded the fastest time in the quarterfinal round (44.764s) to defeat China (46.248s) and qualify for the gold-medal final along with Australia, who recorded the second-fastest time in the last-eight stage.

The keirin has been a UCI men’s World Championship event since 1980 and a UCI women’s World Championship event since 2002. It made its men’s Olympic debut at Sydney in 2000 and was introduced for the women at the 2012 Games in London.

Alben, who is currently the top-ranked junior cyclist in the world in the sprint and keirin events, had created history in 2018 when he won a silver medal in the men’s keirin event at the Junior Track Cycling World Championships in Aigle, Switzerland. India’s women’s team finished fifth in the team sprint event.

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