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Jennifer Valente ties U.S. medal record at cycling worlds

Jennifer Valente

US rider Jennifer Valente celebrates winning gold in the women’s Elite Scratch Race Final at the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome during the Cycling World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland on August 4, 2023. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Jennifer Valente kept the Americans atop the podium at the cycling world championships on Friday.

The Olympic and world champion in the multidiscipline omnium, Valente bided her time in the peloton for most of the 40-lap endurance event known as the scratch race.

But with one lap to go, the 28-year-old from San Diego sprinted around the outside of Poland’s Daria Pikulik in Turns 1 and 2, then held off Dutch rider Maike van der Duin at the line to capture the gold medal in an event that’s not on the Olympic program.

New Zealand’s Michaela Drummond beat out reigning champ Martina Fidanza of Italy for bronze.

“At the very beginning of the competition. There’s a lot of racing to go,” said Valente, who is also part of the U.S. pursuit team and will be contesting the Madison, elimination race, points race and the omnium during a busy stay in Glasgow, Scotland.

Valente earned her 15th career world medal, tying Sarah Hammer for the U.S. track cycling record. In Tokyo, Valente became the first U.S. woman to win Olympic track cycling gold.

Valente was second in the scratch race in 2020 and third two years ago in Roubaix, France.

“It’s really exciting,” Valente said, “but just trying to refocus, actually, on the rest of the races.”

The golden ride by reigning omnium world champion Valente built on a fast start for the Americans in Scotland.

One day earlier, Valente’s team pursuit teammate Chloe Dygert roared to dominant win in the individual pursuit, lapping her opponent in the finals of their 12-lap race. And earlier Friday, Valente and Dygert joined Olivia Cummins and Lily Williams in posting the third-fastest time in team pursuit qualifying.

Dygert also has a busy world championships program with the road race and time trial still to come.