Botticher hopes to build on strong start to UCI Track Champions League

Stefan Botticher is gunning for more glory when the UCI Track Champions League returns in Panevezys, Lithuania.

Botticher beat Dutch duo Harrie Lavreysen and Jeffrey Hoogland to victory in the men’s Keirin at the opening round of the competition in Mallorca earlier this month.

The result, along with a fifth-placed finish in the men’s Sprint semi-final, means Botticher is second in the overall Sprint standings ahead of the second of five rounds in Panevezys on Saturday, November 27.

“My goal before Mallorca was to aim for the top five in the overall standings,” Botticher told Eurosport ahead of the weekend.

“So it was a matter of advancing one round in the sprint, then you’re already among the top six. And I knew that in the Keirin, the chances are greater.

“I already noticed that the Dutch didn’t look so fresh. That’s why I thought that something could work out if I hit the run well. The preliminary run was good and I went all in there despite the short break until the final.

“In the final I had a really bad number, far behind, but it worked out quite well and when it went into the last lap and I saw Lavreysen further behind me, I knew: I can win this thing!

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“I’m enough of a racer to say: I always look for my chance and don’t just go to the starting line to finish second or third. The goal is to stay on it now after the strong start.”

Lavreysen currently holds a four-point lead over Botticher in the sprint standings, with Hoogland a further three points back.

Botticher expects tactics to become more of a factor as the competition progresses.

“Tactical riding for placings and points with the best possible distribution of forces will now become increasingly important from event to event and make it even more exciting,” he said.

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“It’s important to be able to calculate a bit and to approach a race a little differently. It was a tough program, I was still lucky that I didn’t have to do a third sprint run – like Lavreysen for example – then the schedule is really tight and that hurts quite a bit!”

The opening night of the UCI Track Champions League proved a hit as some of the best riders in the world battled for points across different disciplines.

Botticher described it as a “very cool event” and is incentivised by the prize money on offer as well as the exposure offered for riders.

“There’s a lot of prize money to be won…I’m pretty down-to-earth and will probably invest it in my retirement savings. I’m not the type to buy a car right away. But what I also find very good is the massive TV presence – that makes a lot of difference to us for sponsors and is a real benefit.

“Then there’s the long-term commitment to the Champions League: the fact that Eurosport is investing in it for eight years is a huge step that gives us backing.

“It was a super debut for such an event as the Champions League with such a television presence. I hope I can conserve my form until the end.”

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