After the first rounds in Spain, Germany and France, the stars of the 2022 UCI Track Champions League head to London (Great Britain) for a spectacular double header that will crown the overall winners of this second edition of the league.
Women endurance: Archibald against Valente
The hardest battle is expected to play out in the women’s endurance league and will for sure electrify the London velodrome as crowds hope to see Katie Archibald (GBR) claim the overall lead from Jennifer Valente (USA). The Scottish star, who won the women endurance league last year, started slow as she failed to score a single point in the elimination race in the first round staged in Mallorca, but has been performing well ever since.
Archibald already performed some impressive numbers in Berlin and reached 199 beats per minute when she won the elimination race in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. Following those results, she is back in the game with just one point behind Valente.
“I don’t like not holding the jersey and I am pretty motivated heading into London”, the two-time Olympic Champion said. “I take this league very seriously and I am glad to go into the finale still in contention, having thought it wouldn’t be possible after the first round. I will try to do everything perfectly to allow myself the best chance of winning the league.”
Men sprint: Richardson versus Lavreysen
Two rounds, two victories each. Dutch superstar Harrie Lavreysen won both keirin races in Mallorca and Berlin while his Australian opponent Matthew Richardson surprised in the individual sprint races. In Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, results were more mixed.
Lavreysen and Richardson continued to dominate the men sprint, but the Dutch 11-time UCI World Champion managed to win in the individual sprint.
“Finally!”, Lavreysen cheered. “It was a really good race and a great challenge from Matthew. He started well but I was really pushing him to maximum speed. On the final lap I gave it my all to beat him and I’m happy I was able to overtake him.”
Later in the evening, the order was reversed again as Richardson powered to victory in the keirin. The 23-year-old Australian is only two points behind in the overall standing ahead of the two final nights of competition.
“I will approach the last rounds in London in the same way I have done with the other races – making smart decisions and the result will follow”, Richardson said. “I’ve had an absolute blast so far and I hope I can relive those vibes in London.”
Women sprint: Gros’ success at home continues
Following the victories of Shanne Braspennincx (NED) in Mallorca and of Martha Bayona (COL) in Berlin, Mathilde Gros (FRA) delighted the French crowds as she took over the lead in the women sprint league in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines.
The rising star is on a superb roll, having won the 2022 UCI Track World Champion title and three individual sprint events in the UCI Track Champions league. After disappointing performances in the keirin, she came second in the keirin race in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, moving to the top of the standings ahead of the finale in London.
Women's Sprint results ⚡— UCI Track Champions League (@UCITCL) November 26, 2022
In front of her home crowd, Mathilde dominates the Sprint once again and is now leading the Women's Sprint League! 👏#UCITCL #trackcycling pic.twitter.com/lEmDIkjrmQ
“It was amazing tonight”, Gros celebrated in front of her fans and family. “I was so happy to win in front of my family and the crowd was really incredible, they pushed me a lot and I gave everything.”
She undoubtedly has more energy left in the tank for the final battles and it will be needed going up against opponents like Bayona, Kelsey Mitchell (CAN) and Braspennincx.
Many contenders in the men endurance
The six races competed to date in the men endurance league have seen five different winners. British Oliver Wood is the sole rider who holds two victories but only has 5th position in the overall standings.
“Before I knew it, I was going head-to-head at the end of the race and I was thinking if I have made it this far, I may as well dig even deeper and win’,” said Wood after the intense finale in the elimination race against Mathias Guillemette (CAN) in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. The two endurance specialists faced off as if they were riding a sprint, and the Brit won with a peak power of 1,250 watts and an astonishing maximum heart rate of 202 beats per minute.
Following this impressive effort, Wood is still 20 points behind Claudio Imhof, the new leader of the overall standings, whose consistency has resulted in 80 points, six points more than Guillemette. Sebastián Mora follows closely (71 points), ahead of British Mark Stewart (68) and Wood (60). The London rounds look to be exciting!