Get to know: Defending Men’s Sprint champion Harrie Lavreysen

Our new ‘Get to Know’ series allows you to find out more about the stars of the UCI Track Champions League. In this first instalment, we speak with the 2022 Men’s Sprint champion Harrie Lavreysen. 

Harrie Lavreysen is ready to take on the world’s best sprinters once again at the 2022 UCI Track Champions League and we wanted to learn more about what makes him tick. 

Lavreysen might only be 25 years old but he’s already amassed two Olympic gold medals, and at the time of writing, has no less than nine UCI Track World Champion’s jerseys in his locker. 

Last season he added the UCI Track Champions League Sprint title to that incredible palmarès, and he’s now preparing to defend that crown. We met him at his home in Apeldoorn to find out how he grew into a track cycling superstar, what his ambitions are for the upcoming season, and what he gets up to when he’s not flying around velodromes at lightning-fast speeds.

Let’s go right back to the start; what are your earliest memories of riding a bike, and is it true you were a talented BMXer before you turned your attention to the track?
HL: My earliest cycling memories are from when I was four years old; I remember flying down a BMX start hill and then crashing on the very first jump which meant I needed stitches in my chin…  I began racing BMX two years later and had become European champion by my mid-teens. I picked up a lot of shoulder injuries along the way though, and when I dislocated both of them at the same time, when I was 18, that’s when I started track cycling.

What have you been up to since the last UCI Track Champions League season?
HL: I took a month off immediately after it ended as I’d been so busy in the years before it, preparing for the Olympics. I started training for the UCI Nations Cup again at the beginning of this year and I’ll also have competed at the European and World Championships before the UCI Track Champions League begins again.

What are you looking forward to about this year’s UCI Track Champions League, and do you have any goals?
HL: Last year was a huge success and I hope this season will be bigger and better. I’m looking forward to racing again. My ambition is to win five events and finish well in every race I enter. That should mean I stand a good chance of defending my title.

Who do you think your main rivals will be?
HL: Last year the Australians couldn’t compete because of Covid-19 restrictions, but I think they’ll be tough opponents this time around. Nicholas Paul is another rider who I think will provide a strong challenge, and there are some great young guys taking part as well. 

How much have you enjoyed being a part of the UCI Track Champions League, and how much do the crowds spur you on?
HL: It’s been a really good experience. Last season, before the UCI Track Champions League, we hadn’t competed in front of crowds for nearly two years, but then every round in the series was completely sold out. That was amazing and the quick-fire racing format keeps the fans entertained.

What were your favourite moments from last season?
HL: The crowds in London were amazing, and the moment I knew I’d won the Sprint title was very special for me. 

What impact do you think the UCI Track Champions League has had on track cycling?
HL: From my own experience here in the Netherlands, I think a lot more people are now watching it. They didn’t seem to pay as much attention to track cycling before, but the amount of people that have talked to me about the series has been really noticeable, and that’s really good for the sport. 

What do you think about the racing format in the UCI Track Champions League?
HL: It’s intense, especially if you make it through to the top six in each event, but it’s not much busier than other UCI competitions. At the UCI Track World Championships you can do four races in two hours. In the UCI Track Champions League you can do five races in three hours. The only thing with the UCI Track Champions League is that every race feels like a final. This league is only for the best riders, so it’s harder to compete. 

Do you have any pre-race rituals?
HL: To be honest, it’s nothing spectacular. I have a normal warm-up routine but no real rituals.

Do you have any specific goals you want to achieve before the end of your career?
Not specific, but I would like to win as many titles as possible.

When you’re not competing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
HL: I study a bit and really like watching movies. Interstellar is one of my favourites!

The UCI Track Champions League is returning bigger and better in 2022 with the five-round series commencing in Mallorca on Saturday 12 November, visiting Berlin (Saturday 19  November) and Paris (Saturday 26 November) before culminating with a double-header at London’s Lee Valley VeloPark on Friday and Saturday 2-3 December.

You can buy tickets for the Mallorca, St-Quentin-En-Yvelines and London rounds NOW, with ticket information for Berlin coming soon. 

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