Champions League geared to take track racing into new era

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Cycling - UCI Track Cycling World Championships - Stab Velodrome, Roubaix, France - October 24, 2021 Netherlands' Harrie Lavreysen celebrates aft winning golden the men's sprint last REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo

PALMA, Spain, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Once each 4 years the world's champion way cyclists bask the Olympic Games limelight and captivate tv audiences astir the globe with high-octane gladiatorial racing.

For the remainder of the time, however, roadworthy cycling rules and the velodrome specialists, extracurricular of powerhouse nations specified arsenic Britain and the Netherlands, unrecorded a niche existence.

Cycling's governing assemblage the UCI anticipation that is each astir to alteration arsenic the inaugural Track Champions League begins connected Saturday astatine the Velodrom Illes Balears successful Mallorca.

The quickfire made-for-TV bid featuring 72 of the world's champion riders competing implicit 5 play rounds is designed to elevate the athletics to a caller level.

With spouse Eurosport Events promising an innovative attack and instrumentality engagement, the UCI hopes to hook a caller assemblage and supply the level for riders to rise their profiles and, much importantly, marque a decent living.

Britain's six-time Olympic way champion Chris Hoy, an ambassador for the caller league and who helped devise its format, believes the caller bid could beryllium a crippled changer.

"I deliberation it volition germinate and turn and go amended and amended but arsenic a starting constituent I deliberation it's truly breathtaking and I lone privation I was inactive racing," helium said.

"I consciousness similar the athletics has ever been the mediocre narration compared to roadworthy cycling. So this is what the athletics needs, this volition springiness it the boost to instrumentality it to the adjacent level."

The complexities of way cycling, portion fascinating for the aficionados, tin beryllium mystifying for the casual fans portion adjacent experienced cycling journalists tin beryllium near scratching their heads astatine times during a Madison race.

For that reason, the Track Champions League has adopted a boiled down format with the 18 antheral and pistillate sprinters battling for points successful the sprint and keirin disciplines and the endurance riders contesting the scratch and elimination races.

Each circular of the Champions League volition past 2 hours with riders scoring points successful each contention and results tallied up to permission champions successful men's sprint and endurance and women's sprint and endurance aft the last circular successful Tel Aviv connected Dec. 11.

While determination are immoderate notable absentees specified arsenic Britain's aureate mates Jason and Laura Kenny, Saturday's formed successful Mallorca volition boast 29 Olympic medals and 63 satellite titles.

Riders see Olympic sprint champions Harrie Lavreysen (Netherlands) and Kelsey Mitchell (Canada), Olympic keirin champion Shanne Braspennincx (Netherlands) and Britain's aggregate Olympic champions Katie Archibald and Ed Clancy.

Veteran Clancy, a 'founding rider' of the Champions League, said determination is genuine excitement up of the start.

"I deliberation this is the champion effort I've ever seen to bring the excitement of way cycling to the fans, interactively and with the TV coverage," helium said.

The 4 wide winners volition person 25,000 euros with 1,000 euros for the victor of each idiosyncratic contention and portion that is dwarfed by what apical roadworthy cyclists earn, Hoy says it is simply a measurement successful the close direction, particularly with antheral and pistillate riders earning adjacent prizemoney.

Following the Mallorca round, the enactment moves to Lithuania earlier 2 rounds successful London and the climax successful Tel Aviv.

A Paris circular was cancelled arsenic the velodrome was being utilized for a COVID-19 vaccination centre.

Reporting by Martyn Herman Editing by Toby Davis

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