San Diegan among team that wins gold at track cycling worlds

Members of the US team compete during the final of the women's team pursuit event at the Hong Kong Velodrome during the Track Cycling World Championships in Hong Kong on April 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Anthony WALLACE (Photo credit should read ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO — San Diegan Jennifer Valente was part of the four-member U.S. women’s team pursuit squad that won the gold medal Thursday at cycling’s 2017 UCI Track World Championships in Hong Kong, less than a half- second faster than Australia.

The team of Valente, Kelly Catlin, Chloe Dygert and Kim Geist completed the 4-kilometer race in four minutes, 19.413 seconds. Australia was timed in 4:19.830.

The U.S. qualified for the gold medal race by defeating Italy earlier Thursday, finishing in 4:18.716 to Italy’s 4:19.958.

The U.S. also posted the fastest time during qualifying Wednesday, 4:17.722.

Chloe Dygert, Kelly Catlin, Jenn Valente and Kim Geist (Credit/Casey B. Gibson/USA Cycling.)

In team pursuit the two opposing teams start on either side of the track. The winner is the team that catches the other team or records the fastest time. A team is caught when the opposing team comes within one meter of the other.

Valente, Catlin and Dygert were part of the U.S. team that won the silver medal in women’s team pursuit in the Rio Olympics. She was also part of the team that won the gold medal in the event in last year’s world championships.

Valente began her cycling career in 2008 when she was 13 years old and enrolled in free youth classes at the San Diego Velodrome and enjoyed it. She then purchased a track bike and started racing the following summer.

The 22-year-old Valente is also scheduled to compete in two other races at the world championships conducted by UCI, cycling’s international governing body, the individual pursuit and the Madison.