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Wales’ World Champion Emma Finucane Admits Shock After Adding Euro Title

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By Hannah Blackwell

Emma Finucane admitted she was shocked after becoming Britain’s first female European sprint champion at the European Track Cycling Championships in the Netherlands.

Wales’ 21-year-old world champion breezed through her semi-final against Emma Hinze to set up a repeat of her victorious world championship final against Germany’s Lea Sophie Friedrich.

Finucane won the first two races, taking her opponent on the home straight in the second to clinch the title.

“I’m speechless to be honest, I didn’t really know how I’d go coming into this competition,” she said.

“Obviously it’s really early on in the season and this is my first time competing at a major championships in the rainbows; I was really nervous.

“There’s expectation versus how you deal with pressure and I felt like I coped with everything today and I stuck to what I wanted to achieve on the track yesterday.

“I wanted to race aggressively and I feel like I did that. It’s really really special and I hope the momentum continues.”

In the final Finucane found herself head-to-head with old foe Friedrich.

Hungry for the win, Finucane raced with poise and determination. She was not unsettled by Friedrich’s acceleration and went on to deliver a dominating performance in the first race, putting her 1-0 up.

In the second ride, Finucane started on the outside, but pushed the pace quickly, pressuring Friedrich to make a move.

With one lap to go, the sprint was on and the Carmarthen rider stayed high on the track, enabling her to move around the top of her opponent and go full gas along the home straight to take the European title in sensational style.

In an all-British men’s individual pursuit final Dan Bigham edged out Charlie Tanfield, winning in a time of 4mins 5.783secs.

“It was pretty cool, all-national final. I knew I could beat him, I had a really ‘cruisey’ qualifying but my legs just weren’t there in the final. I had to really dig in and just focus on the little details to get it all out,” said Bigham.

“I was hoping for a bit better on the time front but a win’s a win. I want to beat Charlie and I’m sure he wants to beat me. We approach it very seriously, we’re not here to mess around. We want to win and I think that’s a really good mentality to have.”

Britain’s Neah Evans also took silver in the women’s omnium. Evans finished fourth in the scratch, tempo and elimination races and, despite coming second in the points race, could not overturn the advantage of gold medal winner Anita Yvonne Stenberg of Norway.

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