Cycling

Olympic champion Kelsey Mitchell takes silver in women's sprint at Nations Cup

Canadian cyclist Kelsey Mitchell had a specific gameplan for the women's sprint final against Emma Hinze on Friday night at the Tissot UCI Track Nations Cup.

Canada's Lauriane Genest finishes 4th while Germany's Emma Hinze wins gold

Kelsey Mitchell of Canada celebrates after winning her second heat in the Women's Sprint semifinals to advance to the final at the UCI Track Nations Cup in Milton, Ont. Mitchell ended up securing silver on Friday. (Peter Power/The Canadian Press)

Canadian cyclist Kelsey Mitchell had a specific gameplan for the women's sprint final against Emma Hinze on Friday night at the Tissot UCI Track Nations Cup.

"I wanted to make it hurt," she said. "I wanted to make it hurt for her and me."

Mission accomplished on that front.

The painful grind from a blistering final two laps was evident as the rivals pushed each other hard in the best-of-three final on the Mattamy National Cycling Centre track. After taking the opener, the world champ from Germany finished a whisker ahead of the Tokyo Olympic champ in the second round, forcing the Canadian to settle for silver.

"I tried to push her," Mitchell said. "I tried to come around but I didn't have the gap right on either round. If there was a third round maybe I would have it but it's not the case. You've got to cross the line first and unfortunately I didn't do that."

Hinze had an edge of 0.019 seconds in the first round — about half a wheel — and clinched the win in a photo finish, topping Mitchell by just 0.008 seconds.

WATCH | Mitchell takes home silver:

Canadian cyclist Kelsey Mitchell captures sprint silver on home soil

2 days ago
Duration 2:53
Olympic champion Kelsey Mitchell from Sherwood Park, Alta. falls to world champion Emma Hinze of Germany in the women's sprint gold medal final at the Tissot UCI Track Nations Cup in Milton, Ont.

Lauriane Genest of Levis, Que., missed the podium after dropping both rounds of the third-place race to Colombia's Pineda Bayona. Mathias Guillemette of Trois-Rivieres, Que., also took fourth place in the men's elimination race.

Genest, who won keirin bronze in Tokyo, teamed with Mitchell, Calgary's Sarah Orban and Toronto's Jackie Boyle to win team sprint bronze on Thursday.

In other Canadian women's results Friday, Ariane Bonhomme of Gatineau, Que., was sixth in the individual pursuit and Adele Desgagnes of Montreal was seventh. Sarah Van Dam of Victoria was sixth in the elimination race and Calgary's Ngaire Barraclough was 16th in the scratch race.

In the men's scratch race, Jackson Kinniburgh of Calgary was 10th.

'She has the maturity, she's smart and she loves what she's doing'

Mitchell, a varsity soccer player at university, transitioned to track cycling in 2017. She won three medals at the Canadian championship a year later and won gold at the Pan Am Games in 2019.

Brimming with confidence after her Olympic gold last summer, Mitchell took sprint gold at last month's Nations Cup in Glasgow.

WATCH | Canada captures bronze in women's team pursuit:

Canada claims bronze in women's team pursuit on home soil

3 days ago
Duration 1:49
Canada's Lauriane Genest, Kelsey Mitchell and Sarah Orban beat Great Britain in the women's team sprint bronze medal race at the Tissot UCI Track Nations Cup in Milton, Ont.

"Some athletes compete for many years and they don't capitalize on what they are doing," said Canadian sprint track head coach Franck Durivaux. "But every race she's doing, every competition, every training [session], it's an opportunity for her to capitalize and be better.

"I think it's because she has the maturity, she's smart and she loves what she's doing."

Mitchell, from Sherwood Park, Alta., was in top form ahead of the final but Hinze found the tactical advantage and carried her speed through to the finish.

"Fighting for the line is a very painful experience but it's so rewarding when you win," she said. "It just motivates you that much more when it's that close knowing that you can beat that person. I'll see her again for sure.

Mitchell will enjoy an off-day Saturday before racing in the keirin on Sunday.

The Nations Cup is essentially a rebranded World Cup. Instead of the usual six-event tour, the track cycling circuit has been trimmed to three stops with stiffer competition.

This is the fourth year — and first since early 2020 — that the Mattamy National Cycling Centre has hosted a Nations Cup/World Cup event.

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