GB’s first gold of the Glasgow 2018 European Championships had a distinctly Scottish feel to it, with Katie Archibald and Neah Evans making up half of the women’s team pursuit quartet who claimed victory at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome last night.

Archibald and Evans were joined by Laura Kenny and Elinor Barker and as fastest qualifiers, GB went into the gold medal ride against Italy as heavy favourites. However, things were not quite as straightforward as many anticipated, with Italy putting up an almighty fight until the last 500m of the race.

For much of the first 2000m, the lead continuously changed hands with only hundredths of a second separating the two nations. But as the race entered its last kilometre, the Brits came into their own.

With the Italians beginning to tire, the GB squad remained a tightly knit unit, with their lead gradually widening. And when the Italian team split with 500m to go, the Brits knew gold was theirs, ultimately claiming victory by a whopping eight and a half seconds.

This was Archibald’s thirteenth European Championships medal - and her eleventh gold - and she admitted it was a hugely satisfying win.

“The Italians have had had a good year and like any competitive sport, you don’t come back with a grudge but you come back wanting to win,” the 24-year-old said.

“So I’m really proud to get on the top step at the Europeans.”

This championship has extra significance in that it marks the beginning of the Olympic qualifying period for the Tokyo 2020 Games and with GB reigning Olympic champions - that team included Archibald, Kenny and Barker - the Scot was delighted to have put down a marker for the rest of the world.

“This was the beginning of the qualification period and so while it sounds so obvious, our strategy is to qualify strongly in the early part of the season and then carry that through to the next year-and-a-half,” she said.

Archibald has quite a schedule this week, with the Glaswegian going for four gold medals in just six days. She will be back on the track this morning in the qualification rounds of the individual pursuit and despite her previous form in winning multiple medals at major championships, Archibald admitted the lack of recovery time made her slightly apprehensive.

“I’m a bit worried,” she revealed in the immediate aftermath of last night’s victory.

“It’s about 12 hours from the end of the team pursuit until I’ll be qualifying (in the individual pursuit) so it’s really not long to recover.”

For Archibald’s compatriot, Evans, this was her first European title and first major championship gold medal. The 28-year-old is now based in Manchester but has spent many a day on this Glasgow track and she admitted it was extra special to win her first major title in front of a home crowd.

“It’s fantastic to get gold - that’s what we wanted to do, that’s why we’re here so to achieve it is brilliant,” she said.

“Glasgow is home for me and Katie and I definitely get a warm welcome when I come back here. So to win in Glasgow makes it extra special.”

Evans is a qualified vet and until 18 months ago, was working full-time and training when her work allowed. But having taken the plunge and become a full-time athlete last year, she admits the speed of change still astonishes her.

“It’s been a massive progression,” she said.

“Now, everything is based around my training rather than fitting it around my shifts. It’s so nice knowing that if I’m at a race, I don’t need to set an alarm to get up for work the next day anymore.

“Two years ago, I could only have dreamt about being in this position whereas now, it’s a reality. You can get caught up in it so sometimes, you need to take a step back and take it in. But I’ve been very lucky.”

And Evans had a few words of praise for her teammate Laura Kenny, who gave birth less than a year ago. The Englishwoman has made a remarkable comeback to top-level cycling, with last night’s gold marking her first major title since the birth of her son.

“I possibly have a bit of an understanding of what Laura has to out up with, although I know that being on-call is very different from having a baby,” she said.

“But I know how rubbish you can feel when you’ve only had a couple of hours sleep and you’ve got to get up and train. It’s difficult because you don’t want to moan and say how hard it is and she doesn’t, she just gets on with it. So she’s done really well.”

There was further medal success for GB in the velodrome last night with Emily Kay winning silver in the women’s 10km scratch race while the men’s team pursuit took bronze.

However, in the surprise of the day, the GB men’s team sprint failed to reach the medal races, suffering elimination in the heats.