Denmark won the speedway world team cup in Poland tonight in one of the most dramatic conclusions to the competition in recent years.
With the scores tied going into the last race, individual world number three Niels-Kristian Iversen surged around the outside of Poland's Janusz Kolodziej on the last turn to secure victory for the Danes over the host nation by a single point.
Iversen said: "It was all or nothing on the last corner. I didn't think I could catch him, but I gambled and managed to get him. Every race is four laps and you have to make the most of all of them. It's awesome that we won it."
Britain, who made it through direct from their home qualifier last week at King’s Lynn, were outclassed in the final, finishing fourth on 16 points, 20 behind the third-placed Australians and 23 behind the Danes.
Britain had to wait until Heat 16 for their first and only race win of the night, which came from individual world champion Tai Woffinden.
Team GB’s Simon Stead and Danny King’s lack of recent experience at the highest level and on faster circuits than we have in Britain played a key role in the defeat. Even Woffinden wasn’t at his best at the start of the night, before finding form in his final rides, while Chris Harris fought hard for his points.
But the fact the Brits were in the final at all was a credit to them, as they’ve not made it to the last stage since 2010 and this year’s performance was a massive improvement on a dismal 2013. Last year the British team, Woffinden apart, were out of contention even in their home qualifier and were shambolic as they missed out in a last-chance qualifier in Prague.
Woffinden, who sat out the racing week before the world cup because he was suffering with exhaustion, and had another week without racing between the qualifier and final, said: “That long a break is not ideal at this stage of the season. I didn’t start off too well, but I tried a bike set-up I’d never used before and suddenly it started working.”
The world champ admitted the British team were up against it from the start in the final in Poland. He added: “The boys are mostly racing in the UK. When you come here the leagues are twice as strong and the tracks are completely different. We have a lot of work to do and need to build over the next five years.”
British team manager Alun Rossiter, who helped restore a great deal of pride in the national team, said after the meeting: “It’s been a good learning curve. I couldn’t have asked for more from the boys, they gave it their best and we fell short. We’ve talked about how we can make things easier and better for next year and for the future of the team.”