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Anita Stenberg Rides Her Way To A Medal and Olympic Qualification At Track Worlds

Norwegian track athlete Anita Stenberg concluded her wildly successful 2019-2020 Track campaign with her best World Championships to date! Stenberg rode her Track Elite to a bronze medal in the points race (Norway’s first in 25 years!) and an Olympic qualification in the omnium. She shared her thoughts on the week:

The 2020 World Championships were AMAZING and my best ride ever!

Briefly summarized: a BRONZE medal in the Points Race - my first medal ever in a World Championship and the first one in 25 years for a Norwegian rider. In addition, I finished 9th in the omnium - and qualified for the Olympics! So, it couldn't get any better - did I mention that I took the medal and qualified for the Olympics? :D  I still can't get my arms down and stop smiling from ear to ear!    

Photo by: Jesper Skovbolle 

The Scratch race was the first competition, a race without any expectations and pressure on my shoulders. I was very happy with it and got the best result of my career for a World Championship (until my Points Race of course- 7th!). It was a hard but controlled race from the start. The pace was high, with no one being able to attack. It ended with a bunch sprint, where I tried to find a good position, but struggled. Although I am fast, my weakness is positioning in the field. I made some small mistakes along the way, but was happy with my top 10 finish!

After a recovery day, it was time for the omnium (an Olympic event that covers four races in one day- a scratch race, a tempo race, an elimination and a points race). The Scratch race was at a fast pace from the start, and it was not possible to make any attacks. It ended in a chaotic sprint, with a crash just behind me. I was sandwiched between Poland and Australia, I managed to keep myself on the bike, but lost focus and ended as 12th. That’s racing!  

The tempo race was a chaotic race, and not a race I was happy with. I ended up in 12th again. I had no control and felt like I was cycling around like a headless chicken, who had no idea what was up and down! In the overall, I also dropped to 14th place, and I felt like the whole world was against me. Finishing in the top 10 was my goal and it felt impossible at the moment.   

I worked hard in the elimination. I fought with everything I had, used my head as much as I could, and came in a great 9th place - and I was super happy! I also climbed to 11th place and the world began to smile at me again!   

Photo by: Jesper Skovbolle 

The points race was a fun, but hard race. I had a plan and I followed it to the fullest. I managed to finish in 9th place overall - and secured myself an Olympic ticket!

Well, what should I say about the Points Race? It’s one of the highlights of my life! I won the BRONZE medal and I still can't believe it!

I had no pressure, no expectations, and actually just wanted to get on the track, have fun and show who I really am. I know that I can ride incredibly well in training and have often underperformed in competition. I would change that today! I was waiting at first, until some of the riders had their power burned off. About 20 laps in, Mexico went off the front, the US and Netherlands chased and I followed. We quickly became a trio who worked well together and took a lap on the field, gaining a 20 point advantage.  After that I gathered some strength,  and recovered for the final part of the competition. 

I got some points in the penultimate sprint and it launched me in to a smaller group with just eight laps to go. As we neared the end of the race, the field was bearing down on us and I fired off my sprint! I managed to beat out my breakaway competitors for double points on the line, which bumped me into the bronze medal!  

Photo by: Jesper Skovbolle 

It was completely insane,and I didn't even realize it at first. Even now, I can't stop smiling from ear to ear!   Tomorrow I will be going to Malaga in Spain for a week before all the focus is on the Olympics in July!