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Lara Gillespie has been taking on, and beating, some of the biggest names in world track cycling in London on Saturday (Photo: UCI Track Champions League)

Lara Gillespie spoke earlier this year of needing more racing at the very top of track cycling before she could secure big results but the 22-year-old Irishwoman looks like she is already making that kind of progress following a big win in London.

Riding the final round of the UCI Track Champions League, she put some of the best riders in the world to the sword, inflicting a very rare defeat in the elimination on Katie Archibald, Great Britain’s two-time Olympic champion and five-time Worlds winner.

It was only the third time in three years that Archibald had been beat in the elimination race. Indeed, Archibald had to be content with 3rd this evening as Norwegian rider, and two-time European champion, Anita Stenberg, lived with Gillespie for longest, before being beaten by the Irish rider in the final sprint.

That victory, in the last race of the 2023 series, capped a very strong day for Gillespie as she was also 2nd in the scratch race. It was won by Great Britain’s Neah Evans, a two-time world champion, with Lithuania’s Olivija Baleišytė placing 3rd.

The racing unfolded on London’s Lee Valley Velodrome and before the racing began she told Eurosport the intensity of the racing – each weekend – was something new to her and something she was really benefiting from, using it to “accelerate my learning”. She also named Archibald as a rider to emulate, and then went on to beat her.

“Katie is an icon,” Gillespie said. “It’s like trying to race against a superhero, the person who you aspire to be. It’s funny when you’re sitting beside her – does she know that we all aspire to be her, and she’s really inspiring?”

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