Speedway: Perfect Poles Clinch Speedway World Cup Gold

There’s around 8000 people in Manchester, England right now that are just about getting their breath back.That’s because they witnessed one of the most intensely brilliant speedway meetings in recent memory as Poland won the 2016 Monster Energy Speedway World Cup in England’s National Speedway Stadium.It’s hard to know where to begin with a meeting so epic but first thing’s first; one huge hat-tip needs to go to a young Polish side who showed heart, guts and nerves of steel to win yet another SWC title and reaffirm their status as the most powerful nation in world speedway.It was never going to be straightforward with four nations all putting everything on the line and Australia, Great Britain, Sweden and Poland produced an all-time classic, quite literally throwing their bikes at each other in some races.Great Britain captain Tai Woffinden got the hosts off to the perfect start when he wound it all on in Heat One to send the British fans wild but it was actually reigning champions Sweden who made the best start after the first set of races.They pulled an early lead and looked well set to launch a strong defense of their title but the longer it went on, the more Poland looked like reeling them in.There were far too many awesome races to mention them all but we have to talk about Heat Seven, which saw Chris Holder and Fredrik Lindgren produce one of the best duels in World Cup history as they spent four laps pretty much side-by-side with just inches separating them.Every time one of them got in front the other found a way to come back and it was only when the Swede squeezed Holder out right on the finish line that they were able to be split, with the whole stadium rising to their feet to salute both men after a truly jaw-dropping battle.By the halfway stage Poland had drawn level with Sweden and they never fell behind again, but it got pretty cosy late on when home favourites Great Britain threatened to pull off a huge shock and knock them off top spot.GB had one weapon that nobody else did – Woffinden. The World Champion was on fire all night and he somehow dragged his side to within two points of the lead with four races to go and the whole stadium dared to dream – surely they couldn’t do the impossible?Unfortunately not. Despite Tai’s best efforts the Poles were simply not going to be denied.If the Polish team were under pressure they didn’t show it, charging to the victories they needed to secure gold and doing in style too. If you’re going to win a World Cup, do it with a race to spare and that’s what happened when Krzysztof Kasprzak clinched the win in the penultimate race.The last heat still had something riding on it though because Woffinden needed to finish ahead of his Swedish opponent to secure an unlikely but hard-earned silver medal for GB - and the champ made no mistake. He tucked into second place behind Polish captain Piotr Pawlicki and brought the house down as Britain achieved their best World Cup result in 13 years.Woffinden scored 19 of Britain’s 32 points and toasted the result afterwards, saying “It feels awesome to get silver, before the race we said we’d focus on bronze and if we got ourselves into a position to get more we’d deal with it then.“We were the underdogs really, nobody expected us to do anything but at one stage we were right there with Poland and we pushed them. Obviously the ultimate goal is to win the tournament but it’s nice to be back on the podium because it’s been a while. The boys worked hard and we pulled something out.“It was a good night for me, I felt really good on the bike and I’ve got fast engines so it was fun. It was a hard meeting because it’s the best riders in the world on a great racetrack so it’s always going to be a good mix. When everyone is so fast it makes it fun and it was an enjoyable one to race in.“The Polish guys have an amazing structure and they have so much talent, they deserved the win so congratulations to them because they were the best team on the night for sure.”The fourth placed team was Race-Off qualifiers Australia, who couldn’t quite reach the heights of Friday night when they saw off fierce competition from Denmark, Russia and USA to make the Final.They were hit by an injury to young sensation Max Fricke and even though they were never far off the lead, they just couldn’t bully their way into the medal picture and they’ll lick their wounds and go again next year.It may be just hours since the chequered flag went down after the last race, but we already can’t wait for next year.