In the lead up to season two of the UCI Track Champions League, Back on Track – the in-depth, behind-the-scenes documentary series following riders throughout the 2021 campaign – has returned to our screens.
The five-episode series is currently being replayed on Eurosport each week (check local TV listings for dates and times of all subsequent episodes).
Back on Track lifts the lid on the action, rivalries and drama from the inaugural season of this innovative cycling league. Following the best track cyclists in the world, it allows viewers to get to know the riders, experiencing their highs and lows as they compete at the very highest level of international competition.
The series will form part of Eurosport’s packed programme of track cycling coverage this autumn which also includes daily coverage of the Tissot UCI Track World Championships and every round of the 2022 UCI Track Champions League.
The first episode of the season begins in Mallorca, Spain, as the riders prepare for round one of the inaugural UCI Track Champions League. It captures the sense of anticipation as the athletes head into a brand-new format of racing.
As the story of round one unfolds on track, viewers are introduced to the series’ key protagonists, starting with the Netherlands’ Harrie Lavreysen – nine-time UCI World Champion and double Olympic gold medalist – one to watch in the Sprint category.
The episode delves into Lavreysen’s past, looking at the origins of the Dutchman’s career in track cycling – a sport he first took to after giving up BMX as a result of dislocating his shoulder more than 50 times.
Among the personalities viewers also meet in episode one is fellow track sprinter and Olympic gold medalist Kelsey Mitchell (Canada), who recounts her extraordinary rise to the very top of the sport in the space of just three years.
Rivalries develop as the racing unfolds, while riders struggle to adapt to the fast-paced nature of the new series. Episode one draws to a close with all eyes turning to the tight-fought battle in the Men’s Endurance category, and round two to come.
The second episode begins with a closer look at the Men’s Endurance category. Among the contenders for the title is Corbin Strong (New Zealand), who sits in the interview chair for the first time.
Viewers are also transported to Glasgow to meet double Olympic gold medalist Katie Archibald to learn about what drives her to succeed. In Mallorca, her fierce battle continued with Dutch veteran Kirsten Wild, with both riders searching for a strong performance in a dramatic Elimination Race after disappointing results in the Scratch.
In the Sprint, close friends and teammates Emma Hinze and Lea Sophie Friedrich navigate the difficulties of competing against each other at the very highest level, each feeling the pressure. Meanwhile, fellow Women’s Sprint rider Mathilde Gros discusses her disappointing Olympic campaign, and aspirations for the league.
As the episode reaches its conclusion, we travel to Lithuania for the second round of the league and meet local sporting legend Simona Krupeckaitė – a rider set to retire who’s hoping for one last big result in front of the capacity home crowd.
German track sprinter Emma Hinze lifts the lid on the high-pressure environment of the UCI Track Champions League.
The league’s inaugural Sprint champion addresses the media’s natural comparisons made between her and German track cycling legend Kristina Vogel. Multiple UCI World Champion and Olympic medalist Hinze is clear to state that whilst she has huge respect for the achievements of her fellow countrywoman, she is focused only on her own performance.
Hinze’s thoughts on the topic come in the third episode of the series, set in round 2 of the league, in Panevėžys, Lithuania. The episode begins with a visit to the apartment of Lithuanian rider Olivija Baleisyte, for a discussion on what drives her to succeed as she looks ahead to the excitement of a home crowd cheering her on.
On track, once the racing gets underway, close rivalries develop in the Men’s Endurance League as unexpected results close up the standings, while the Women’s Endurance League takes a very different turn. Viewers visit Villareal, Spain and get to know series contender Sebastián Mora behind the scenes.
This episode sees UCI Track Champions League Endurance Champion Gavin Hoover, one of the two American riders in the series, reflect on what drew him to the sport. We travel to Anadia, Portugal, to interview the 24 year old who went into the league as an underdog. With the biggest win of his career at arm’s reach, Hoover discusses the cycling idols that inspired him.
Episode four begins at the Lee Valley Velodrome, London – home of track cycling at the 2012 Olympic Games. The venue is set to host two back-to-back rounds of the league, making for a thrilling finale. For many riders, it will be the last race of their careers. Ed Clancy, three-time Team Pursuit Olympic gold medalist, looks back with fond memories on racing at the velodrome as he takes to the track one last time.
Also retiring are fellow veterans and multiple UCI World Champions Annette Edmondson and Kirsten Wild – both of whom are aiming to topple Women’s Endurance League leader Katie Archibald at her home venue.
In the final episode of the series, Mora and O’Brien aren’t the only riders at odds with each other. Compatriots and close teammates Emma Hinze and Lea Sophie Friedrich reveal how their friendship is quickly forgotten on the track when just two points separate them in the standings. Episode five also focuses on the retirements of several big name riders as they compete in the last race of their careers. Annette Edmondson, Kirsten Wild and Ed Clancy all speak to the camera and reflect on their time in track cycling.
Viewers are also treated to a moment-by-moment breakdown by Katie Archibald of the series’ final Elimination race that brought the crowd to its feet, giving an insight into the mind of the supremely dominant series champion.
As the series draws to a close, Archibald looks back to round one and considers the potential for the new league to change the sport.
Once the weekly screenings have concluded, the series will then be repeated in its entirety on Eurosport between 9:30am and 1:00pm (GMT) on Saturday 12th November to celebrate the first round of the 2022 UCI Track Champions League season taking place in Palma, Mallorca, later that day.
Viewers can also watch the series in full on Eurosport App, or on GCN+.
2022 RACE CALENDAR:
Round 1: Saturday 12 November, Mallorca / Velòdrom Illes Balears, Spain
Round 2: Saturday 19 November. Berlin / Berlin Velodrom, Germany
Round 3: Saturday 26 November, St-Quentin-En-Yvelines / Velodrome National de St-Quentin-En-Yvelines, France
Round 4: Friday 2 December, London / Lee Valley VeloPark, UK
Round 5: Saturday 3 December, London / Lee Valley VeloPark, UK