Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

UCI Track Champions League preview: Cycling tournament kicks up a gear in London

Posted on 3 December 2021 by Yoseph Kiflie
Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 06/11/2021 – Cycling – UCI Track Champions League Round 1 – Mallorca / Velòdrom Illes Balears, Palma, Spain – Germany’s Lea Friedrich leads in the first round of Keiren heats.

This week sees the UCI Track Champions League come to London for the final two rounds. The new track cycling series was launched with the aim of building the sport’s global profile outside the Olympic cycle.

The competition is divided into Sprint and Endurance categories. The former consists of Sprint and Keirin races, the latter of Elimination and Snatch races.

Points are given based on how riders finish in each race. The leader after each round wears a light blue jersey.

There are an equal number of men and women for the sprint and endurance, 18 each. There is also equal prize money, with the €500,000 prize pot being split evenly.

 

Standings

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 27/11/2021 – Cycling – UCI Track Champions League, Round 2: Panevezys – Cido Arena, Panevezys, Lithuania – Leaders after Round 1, Katie Archibald, Corbin Strong, Emma Hinze and Harrie Lavreysen.

In the Sprint categories, Emma Hinze and Harrie Lavreysen hold commanding leads. Neither has finished below 2nd in any of the races so far.

Harrie Lavreysen’s lead continues what has been an dominant year, having won gold in both Sprint and Keirin events at the Track World Championships in October, and getting gold and bronze at last summer’s Olympics.

The top three in the women’s sprint mirrors the podium at the World Championships, but Emma Hinze hasn’t had it all her own way this year. Canadian Kelsey Mitchell beat the German in the semi-finals at the Olympics on her to Sprint gold.

The men’s Endurance has been by far the closest category, with Sebastián Mora holding a slender two-point lead over Corbin Strong.

Corbin Strong had an ominous start in Mallorca, winning both the Elimination and the Snatch to lead after Round One. However, he struggled in the second round, and Spaniard Mora took advantage by winning both races in Lithuania.

In the women’s endurance, Brit Katie Archibald comes to her home track as leader. Having been fourth in the first-round sprint race, she has not looked back, winning every race since then.

 

Brits to look out for

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 27/11/2021 – Cycling – UCI Track Champions League, Round 2: Panevezys – Cido Arena, Panevezys, Lithuania – Ed Clancy, Sophie Capewell, Rhys Britton and Katie Archibald of Great Britain.

The Track Champions League has been illuminated by the crowd’s support of local riders, with Sebastián Mora and Vasilijus Lendel delighting crowds. Expect to see something similar at Lee Valley.

The obvious name will be Katie Archibald, due to her dominance in the Endurance.

There are other Brits on show too. Three-time Olympic champion Ed Clancy announced his retirement in Tokyo this year, with the Track Champions League serving as a “last hurrah”.

With this most likely being the final time he’ll race in London, expect to see a massive reception from the crowd.

Clancy is competing in the Endurance category, and is joined by fellow Brit Rhys Britton.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 27/11/2021 – Cycling – UCI Track Champions League, Round 2: Panevezys – Cido Arena, Panevezys, Lithuania – Rhys Britton of Great Britain and Kelland O’Brien of Australia during the Men’s Scratch race.

The 22-year-old is a Snatch race specialist. He got a bronze at the World Championships and made the podium in both rounds of the Champions League.

Finally, Sophie Capewell is competing in the Sprint. The 23-year-old comes into the Track Champions League having won bronze in the Team Sprint at the Track World Championship.

All pictures used in this article are from the UCI Track Champions League. To find out more, click here