Peloton Watch
  Julie Leth targeting Tokyo Olympics following European Madison title  
  October 2nd 2018  
  Amalie Dideriksen (left) and Julie Leth (right) after winning 2018 European Madison title. Photo: PA Images  
  Julie Leth has her eye on further Madison success following European Championship gold and World Cup medals in the last 12 months. With the goal of representing Denmark in the event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games her dream over the next two years.

European gold came after a strong tactical performance that saw them beat out a strong field including 2017 World Champions Lotte Kopecky and Jolien D'hoore, reigning world Champion Katie Archibald with Laura Trott as well as strong Dutch and Italian teams.

While the pair may not have raced a UCI event together previously both had proven their Madison skills in the last 12 months with Leth claiming a World Cup silver medal and Dideriksen finishing fourth at the 2018 World Championships, both with Trine Schmidt.

Leth may be best known for her exploits on the road, most recently as a member of the Wiggle High5 squad though her track pedigree dates back to the junior level, where she claimed the points race world title in 2010. The rider she beat eight years ago in Montichiari, the now four time Olympic Champion Laura Trott.

Leth and Dideriksen will debut their European Champions jersey at 3 Jours d'Aigle, October 4-6 in Switzerland ahead of the World Cup season starting later this month.

Was your second and first major Madison with Amalie what was the plan heading in?

The plan was mainly to stay close to the front and compete in the sprints. We did not even speak about taking a lap, just wanted to be present in the front of the race. I think one of our strong sides is that we both have a good feeling, when it comes to the tactical parts of racing, cause sometimes you just have to go with your gut.

Picked up a few points in the early sprints before going on the attach at the mid way point and taking a lap with Russia to move in to the lead how did you find the race?

Very hectic. I have not done that many big Madison races, and in the beginning we struggled. We got caught quite far back in the bunch, pretty much just racing above the blue line, and we struggled to move up. This meant we did not compete in the first few sprints. However, as soon as we made it to the front, we showed good form in the sprints, and even before gaining the lap, we had put ourselves into a medal position.

You had the race all but won after the penultimate sprint what was the feeling like those last ten laps as you crossed the line to take the win?

I do not think I quite realised. I just wanted us to stay upright, and still stay as close to the front as possible, in case something would happen. Heading into the last lap, I knew we had it in the bag. I think Amalie threw her hands in the air as soon as she slung me in for that last lap. I was a bit more hesitant, just could not quite believe it.

Was a strong field with the majority of leading nations there including 2017 World Champions Belgium, Worlds medallists Italy, World Champion Katie Archibald and Laura Trott. How much confidence can you take from the win going forward?

It is always good to feel that you are able to compete amongst the best nations in the World. We had a very far from flawless ride, but still managed to win. I take a lot of confidence in knowing that we can still improve on many things. I know the general level will increase drastically the next two years, but I believe that we as a team will be able to follow this development.

You tweeted after the race "What. Did this just happen? Absolutely over the moon. As much as I love racing for my teammates, I loved taking the top step myself for once." what does being European Madison Champion mean to you?

It means a lot. It was my first international track championships since the 2014 worlds, so I wanted to prove myself a bit. Winning championships just never gets old. I cannot wait to race in the jerseys, but I also believe they come with some pressure. I want to show, it was not a coincidence that we won.

With yourself, Amalie and Trine Schmidt you have three riders who have all had success internationally in the Madison how important is having that depth?

From now till Tokyo the level in the Madison will keep increasing. I believe being three, we will keep push each other to improve. We all want to reach a high level, and we can draw on one another’s experience.

Denmark has long been a leading team in the men's team pursuit. With the three of you have you looked at building on that and putting a women's team pursuit squad together?

I am not the one to ask, but I do believe it might be in the long term plans. I wish they would have done it before. I would love to be part of a team pursuit team.

The women's Madison is still a new event at international level how have you seen the event and riders grow and develop over the last two to three years?

It has been less than a year since I did my first international Madison, so I have not experienced the development first hand. I did however watch as many women’s Madison races as I could find online, to try and prepare. I think it is obviously that the event has already grown tremendously. More nations are able to compete for medals, and everyone is getting better technically all the time.

European Championships were the first event in the Olympic qualifying period is the Madison going to be a major focus for over the next two years heading towards Tokyo?

Of course. The Olympics has been my dream, since I was a kid. The first memory I have of watching it, was the 2004 Games. I just loved it. Back then, I was doing track and field. I went to practice, and told everyone I thought we should aim at going to the Olympics. It did not work out for me yet, but I hope it will in 2020.

Been a junior world champion in the points race is the points and scratch races something you have an eye on at World Cups and World Championships as well?

It is not something I have put much thought into. My main priority is the Madison. I am sure, I would benefit from it. Having been off the track for this many years, I have a bit of catching up to do, and it could work well as a hit out for the Madison.
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