T&T’s Nicholas Paul completed a hat-trick of gold medals at the International Cycling Union (UCI) Tissot Track Cycling Nations Cup when he dominated the men’s match sprint at the Alcides Nieto Patino Velodrome in Cali, Colombia on Sunday.
Facing off with hometown rider and Pan American rival Kevin Quintero in the best-of-three final, the 22-year-old Paul who was sixth in the same event at the Tokyo Olympic Games took gold in two straight rides.
The ace T&T cyclist won the first ride in 10.196 seconds at an average speed of 70.616 kilometres per hour and then followed with a much quicker time of 9.845 at 73.134 km/h in the second ride to claim the gold, his third from as many events over the four days of competition, upping T&T’s medal tally to four gold as well.
Overall on the Nations Cup standings, Paul is now fourth in the match sprint with 800 points from one event, just behind Lithuanian Vasilijus Lendel who has 824 from two events.
Quintero leads with 1,520 points with his countryman Santiago Ramirez, second with 1,000 after two events each.
Paul is joint top of the points table in the kilometre Time Trial with 800 points, the same as Germany’s Felix Gross from one event win each.
And in the keirin, Quintero leads with 1280 points from two events, just ahead of Lendel (1240) while Ramirez and India’s Esow Esow are joint third with 1,040 points followed by Paul, fifth with 800.
France’s Ryan Helal won match sprint bronze with a 2-0 best of three wins against Canadian Nick Wammes with victories in 10.054 and 10.035.
Paul’s win on Sunday added to his previous triumphs in the one-kilometre Time Trial on Friday and the keirin on Saturday.
In the semifinals, Paul, swept Helal in two straight rides, firstly, in 10.003 seconds and then, 10.247.
However, the other semifinal was full of excitement as Quintero pipped Wammes in the third and deciding ride off in 10.496.
This was after Wammes won the first ride in 10.115 while Quintero evened the contest with victory in the second ride in 10.230.
When the event began early on Sunday morning, Paul put down his marker with the fastest qualifying time of all 22 competitors with a sizzling 9.660 seconds followed by Wammes (+0.132 behind), Quintero (+0.151), Helal (+0.198) and Sebastien Vigier (+0.216) to complete the top five while T&T’s other competitor Quincy Alexander ranked 18th with a time of 10.450.
Alexander still had a chance to reach the top 16, but in his single ride heat five with Esow, who was 15th overall in 10.286, he ended in the second spot to bow out.
In the round-of-16, Paul continued the dominance of his rivals when he outpaced challenger, Danial Amar Masri of Madagascar who defeated Mexico’s Juan Ruiz in the single ride qualifiers to win by +0.299 seconds.
It was then onto the quarterfinals for the T&T ace and he wasted little time in sweeping aside Poland’s Daniel Rochna in two straight rides of the best-of-three, first by +0.193 seconds, and then the second, by +0.177.
His opponent in the semifinals, Rayan also sped to his quarterfinal victory over his countryman Vigier in two rides, by +0.202 and then by +0.116.
Quintero defeated fellow Colombian Santiago Ramirez in three rides in his quarterfinal, and Wammes, swept Poland’s Patryk Rajowski, 2-0 as well.
Overall, T&T with a contingent of four cyclists has so far won three gold medals with Akil Campbell, the brother of Olympic women’s cyclist Teniel Campbell capturing the gold in the Elimination Race on Friday night as well.
Campbell is the joint World Cup leader on 800 points alongside Italian Carloalberto Giordani and Japan’s Eiya Hashimoto.
On Sunday in the Omnium race, Campbell ended in seventh spot overall with 85 points.
This after he p[aced eighth in the Scratch Race (26 points), and 14th in the Tempo Race (14 pts), both contested over 40 laps, before he had an impressive second-place finish in the Elimination Race (38) and then seventh in the Points Race for seven points.