Champions League Boasts a Dynamic Format That Will Revolutionise Track Cycling
Last weekend the inaugural UCI Track Champions League got under way in Mallorca, signalling a significant push by the sport’s governing body to propel track cycling into the future.
Much like the developing formats in other sports such as cricket and football, the UCI Champions League is very much conceived with broadcasters in mind. Discovery Sports, who televise nearly the entirety of the cycling calendar, will look to create a quick-fire spectacle promising an innovative approach with live rider data and greater fan engagement.
This modern overhaul will feature 72 of the world’s best riders competing over five weekly rounds, designed to elevate the sport to a new level. In addition, the series will make its way across Europe – after the first round in Mallorca the competition moves on to the Lithuanian city of Panevézys, before London’s Lee Valley VeloPark and Tel Aviv’s Sylvan Adams Velodrome close out the series, with the former hosting rounds three and four.
In every round, the sprinters will battle it out in the keirin and in the individual sprint. In the keirin, the quickest two riders in each of the three heats will have a chance to compete in the final. In the sprint, there will be six heats with three riders. The winners qualify for the semi-final, each of which are also raced with three riders, ahead of the final which is a head-to-head.
The endurance specialists will race in two formats: a 20-lap Scratch Race and the 36-lap elimination.
Once every four years the world’s best track cyclists descend on the Olympic Games, captivating television audiences around the globe with high-pressured, almost gladiatorial racing. Aside from the track World Championships, the sport exists as somewhat of a niche for the remainder of the time, which is why this new format can bring about an exciting, bitesize competition for new audiences to consume.
“So many Olympic and UCI World Champions in one velodrome at the same time is a guarantee of an amazing show,” said UCI President David Lappartient. “Together with Discovery Sports Events, we are staging an unprecedented event that will delight the athletes and the fans with back-to-back action through November and December.”
Six-time Olympic track gold medalist Sir Chris Hoy, who has been a huge advocate for the newest addition to the track cycling calendar, said, “I think it will evolve and grow and become better and better but as a starting point I think it’s really exciting and I only wish I was still racing.
“I feel like the sport has always been the poor relation compared to road cycling. So this is what the sport needs, this will give it the boost to take it to the next level.”