Paul completes hat-trick of wins in Nations Cup

TOP TEAM TTO cyclist Nicholas Paul bagged his third gold medal of the UCI Nations Cup in dominating style at the Velódromo Alcides Nieto Patiño in Cali, Colombia yesterday, the fourth and final day of the competition.

In the final session yesterday, evening, Paul, the world record-holder for the men’s flying 200 metres, repelled the attacks and defeated Colombia’s Kevin Quintero in two straight rides in the best-of-three event to lift the sprint crown. But the victory wasn’t achieved without incident.

In the first ride, Paul led off, and despite a well-timed attack on the second lap by Quintero, he was up to the task, re-establishing a bike-length lead before extending towards the finish line.

The second ride had to be relaunched after Paul’s front wheel collided with Quintero’s back tire, the TTO rider crashing and sliding down the slanted bank of the track towards the end of the second lap of the three-lap event.

Paul unlatched his pedals, stood up and made sure his bike was still in working order with coach Gregory D’Andrade, before returning to the starting line for a re-do of the ride a few minutes later.

Paul was more clinical on this ride, as he rounded Quintero, passing on the last lap and surged to an unassailable lead, with the Colombian giving up the chase 100 metres out.

Earlier in the day’s final session, Paul had emerged flawlessly at the semi-final stage, bettering France’s Rayan Helal in two consecutive rides. He moved past the Frenchman by .186 seconds in the first, before annihilating Helal with a devastating turn of speed by 2.539 seconds in the second. That set up a showdown with Quintero, who defeated Canada’s Nick Wammes in a come-from-behind performance, winning the last two rides. Helal proceeded to defeat Wammes in two straight rides for the bronze medal.

Late Saturday night, the 22-year old Paul had captured the second of his three gold medals in the keirin event.

Those two winning efforts supplemented his first gold gained on the second night of competition Friday, in the one-kilometre time-trial.

Back on Saturday, the 2019 Pan American Games men’s sprint champion had an eventful time in his second round men’s keirin ride on the way to the final, He had to avoid some falling riders ahead of him on the penultimate lap, before surging across the line first and earning his automatic final berth. The final itself was incident-free, as Paul overhauled the surging Canadian Hugo Barrette on the final lap and held off the charge of the Colombian pair of Kevin Quintero and Santiago Ramirez. Earlier in the morning session yesterday, Paul registered the fastest time for the flying 200m, posting 9.660 seconds to top all-comers. Canada’s Wammes was the second-fastest in 9.792, with Quintero third in 9.811.

TTO’s other entrant, Quincy Alexander was 18th of the 22 riders that started, clocking 10.450. Alexander exited at the 1/16th final round, losing out to India’s Esow Esow.

Paul easily advanced out of the 1/8th final round, edging Malaysia’s Amar Masri by .299 seconds in their ride-off.

Then in the quarter-finals, he dismissed Poland’s Daniel Rochna in two straight rides, defeating him by .193 seconds in the first and .177 seconds in the second to qualify for the semis.

His team-mate Akil Campbell, who won gold in the men’s elimination race on Friday, finished seventh with 85 points in the four-event men’s omnium. Campbell was eighth in the scratch race, 14th in the tempo race, second in the elimination race and third in the 100-lap points race.