The 2019-2020 Tissot UCI World Cup comes to a close this weekend, with the decisive sixth and final round on 24-26 January in Milton, Canada.
The Mattamy National Cycling Centre, in Ontario, was built for the 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games and has hosted UCI World Cup rounds the last two seasons. It features a 42-degree banked 250-metre wooden track, and will also hold the 2020 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships a week after this World Cup event.
It’s tight at the top of the team World Cup standings going into the final round with Poland leading the way on 19743.5 points from the Russian Federation (18397.5) and New Zealand, who aren’t competing in Milton, on 18259.5.
Australia, overall winners of the six-round 2018-19 UCI World Cup are in the reckoning in fourth, just ahead of Italy.
The other nations to win the overall UCI World Cup over the past decade – Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands and France – are clustered together while Japan are 10th. The USA, China and Switzerland are knocking on the door of the top-10 and host nation Canada, after a slow start, are building momentum, scoring well over the last two rounds.
Split-second gaps make the difference and we’ve seen significant swings in positions before, so the final standings are all to play for and are down to the performances by individuals, pairs, trios and quartets in the different events. Here’s what to expect…
Team pursuit and team sprint
The first medals of the final World Cup round will be decided and awarded on Friday 24th in the team pursuit and team sprint – and they’re too close to call.
In the women’s team sprint only the Russian pair has more than one victory this season. Meanwhile in the Women’s team pursuit, New Zealand is the only quartet to win twice, with the USA, Australia and Great Britain each registering one victory so far.
The first three Men’s team sprints were won by the Netherlands trio and the last two by Japan. In the Men’s team pursuit only Denmark has more than one victory.
In the Women’s 30km Madison final on Saturday night, we will be missing the Australian pair of Annette Edmondson and Georgia Baker, who have won three of the five rounds so far this season. The Danes will also be absent, which could be good news for the Dutch.
The Men’s 50km Madison final on Sunday evening is wide open: of the five nations who have victories so far - Denmark, France, Germany, New Zealand and Australia – only France will field a pair, which will present interesting opportunities for Poland, Russia and Great Britain.
It’s a similarly unclear picture for the Men’s keirin final on Saturday night, with the five 2019-2020 Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Cup rounds so far this winter all won by different nations: The Netherlands, France, New Zealand, Malaysia and Colombia. Indeed, Colombia surprised all round in the keirin in Brisbane, with Kevin Santiago Quintero Chavarro taking the Men’s win and Martha Bayona Pineda victorious in the Women’s race.
In the Women’s keirin final on Sunday evening, in the absence of Hyejin Lee of Korea, look out for 2018 UCI World Champion Nicky Degrendele of Belgium, European Champion Mathilde Gros of France and Canada’s own Kelsey Mitchell.
The Men’s Omnium events will be raced across Saturday: the 10km Scratch Race, 10km Tempo Race, Elimination Race, and 25km Final points race. The Women will tackle the Omnium on Sunday, with the same format but shorter distances (7.5km for the Scratch and Tempo and 20km for the points race).
Two-time UCI World Cup winner Campbell Stewart of New Zealand won’t be competing – could that be good news for Benjamin Thomas of France (winner in Glasgow), Max Beyer of Germany or Britain’s Ethan Hayter?
In the Women’s competition, Jennifer Valente of the USA looks strong with two World Cup wins so far. Neither of the other winners, Yumi Kajihara of Japan and Kirsten Wild of the Netherlands, are on the start list. Former European Junior Champion Letizia Paternoster (Italy) could be in with a chance.
With their cat-and-mouse game and explosive action, the three-lap individual sprint races are the entertainment showpieces, with the Women’s sprint providing the finale on Saturday night, and the Men’s sprint final taking the same billing on Sunday evening.
In the Women’s race, expectation is on reigning World Champion (sprint and keirin) Lee Wai Sze of Hong Kong, China. In five World Cup rounds this season, she’s only been beaten once, when Anastasia Voinova of Russia won in New Zealand.
In the Men’s competition, the first three races went to 22-year-old Dutch UCI World Champion Harrie Lavreysen, who isn’t travelling to Canada, but the winner of the last two rounds, 24-year-old Mateusz Rudyk of Poland – contributing to his nation’s big points tally - could be convincing final round winners.
All the riders taking to the track at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre will have their focus on finishing the World Cup series on their best form and earning points for that tight battle for the team win… with an eager eye also on Olympic qualification.