Jennifer Valente
San Diego cyclist Jennifer Valente. Courtesy Team USA

San Diego cyclist Jennifer Valente won the gold medal in the Pan American Games women’s omnium Saturday at Lima, Peru, with three victories in the four-race event.

In an omnium riders receive points based on their finishes. Valente finished third in the opening event, the 7.5-kilometer scratch race where all riders start together. She then won the 7.5-kilometer tempo race, the elimination race and 20-kilometer points race.

“This is definitely a confidence boost going into our build up to Tokyo,” Valente said, referring to the site of the 2020 Olympics. “It was a good benchmark to see where I’m at and what I can improve on.”

Valente completed the omnium with 198 points. Lizbeth Salazar of Mexico was second with 162 points and Arlenis Sierra of Cuba third with 140.

“In a couple of weeks, we have the Pan American Championships with most of the same athletes,” Valente said. “This is a good preview of what that competition will look like.”

Valente had a 10-point lead over Salazar entering the points race, where she lapped the field twice, receiving 82 points in the omnium’s final event.

In a points race, a sprint is held every 10 laps on a 250-meter track, with the winner of each sprint receiving five points, the second-place finisher three points, the third-place finisher two points and fourth-place finisher one point.

Valente was first in the second event, 30-lap, 7.5-kilometer tempo race, where one point is awarded to the first rider each lap from the end of the fifth lap. If a rider gains a lap, she receives 20 points. If she loses a lap, she loses 20 points.

The 24-year-old Valente won the bronze medal in the omnium in March at the Track Cycling World Championships conducted by the UCI, cycling’s international governing body. She won a silver medal in the team pursuit in the 2016 Olympics.

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.

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.