A sold out velodrome and global TV audience witnessed explosive racing in Panevėžy, as rivalries and tension build across the Sprint and Endurance categories
November 27 – Panevėžys, Lithuania: After an electrifying debut in Mallorca, the UCI Track Champions League tonight dialled up the intensity even further for round two. Seventy-two of the world’s top track cyclists took to the boards in Panevėžys to deliver another evening of action and unpredictability as rivalries across the field reached boiling point.
After dazzling performances in front of a sold out velodrome, Harrie Lavreysen (Netherlands) and Emma Hinze (Germany) retain their lead of the men’s and women’s Sprint League. In the men’s Endurance League, Sebastian Mora (Spain) now leads, while Katie Archibald (Great Britain) tops the women’s Endurance standings. Each will wear the coveted UCI Track Champions League Leader’s Jersey at round three at the Lee Valley Velodrome, London on December 3rd.
The Cido Arena welcomed a raucous crowd supporting the league’s trio of Lithuanian riders Simona Krupeckaitė, Vasilijus Lendel and Olivija Baleisyte. Fans were treated to a technology-driven spectacle breaking new ground in cycling, as TV viewers around the world tuned in via discovery+, Eurosport, GCN+ and a wealth of international broadcast partners.
THE STORY OF ROUND TWO
Women’s Sprint League – Women’s Sprint Final
Finalist Emma Hinze (Germany) lined up alongside Canadian challenger Lauriane Genest. The one-on-one duel began as a game of cat and mouse until Hinze attacked from the front with one lap to go. Gaining height from the banking, Hinze dived down and maintained her speed to fend off Genest all the way to the line.
Emma Hinze, winner of the Women’s Sprint Final, said: “It was hard racing tonight, the same as in Mallorca. I’m exhausted. The crowd is great – it’s a great place to ride. It feels good to extend my lead in the category and I’m proud to win this one again.”
Women’s Sprint League – Women’s Keirin Final
Lea Friedrich (Germany) took first place behind the derny to begin the race, closely followed by Canada’s Kelsey Mitchell. League leader Emma Hinze (Germany) began fourth but quickly moved to Friedrich’s wheel once the derny departed. Mitchell attacked early at the bell and quickly joined Hinze in pursuit of Friedrich, who held onto the lead to the line, hitting 71kph in the process. Hinze secured a valuable second place ahead of Mitchell on the line.
Lea Friedrich (Germany), winner of the Women’s Keirin Final, said: “The sprint race was not so good and this was the reason why I had so much motivation for the Keirin. Now I have won this race, I am really happy and I am really proud. It’s amazing to get my first win, it’s an amazing competition and a new feeling for me. I love the feeling here, I love the show and I am really proud.”
Men’s Sprint League – Men’s Keirin Final
Sitting behind the derny from the gun, Jeffrey Hoogland (Netherlands) took pole position ahead of Harrie Lavreysen (Netherlands) and Stefan Bötticher (Germany). Once the derny withdrew, local favorite Vasilijus Lendel (Lithuania) narrowly avoided a high speed collision above the blue line, regaining his balance to surge past Lavreysen with one lap to go – much to the crowd’s delight. The final sprint saw Lavreysen snatch the win however, followed by close rivals Hoogland and Bötticher as Lendel lost pace in the final meters. Whilst the win eluded him, Hoogland recorded the highest top speed of the night with a staggering 82kph in the heats.
Harrie Lavreysen (Netherlands), winner of the Men’s Keirin Final, said: “It was a hectic Keirin. In the first three heats there were some dangerous parts so I thought for the final that I would go from the front and not make things unnecessarily difficult. It was a good final. I thought with two [laps] left that I could go to the front and do an easy build and a really fast last lap. I think it worked out perfectly. It feels good to have extended my lead in the sprint series. There is not a lot of pressure riding in the blue kit, but it’s nice to win in it, of course.”
Men’s Sprint League – Men’s Sprint Final
Nicholas Paul (Trinidad & Tobago) hit a staggering 77kph to win his Sprint Semi-Final against favorite Stefan Bötticher (Germany). Lining up against Harrie Lavreysen (Netherlands) for the event finale, Paul attacked early and gained several bike lengths over Lavreysen, but was reeled in by Lavreysen in the closing stages, with a dare devil move around the outside to win by the smallest of margins.
Harrie Lavreysen, winner of the Men’s Sprint Final, said: “At the start of this race, I was beginning to feel better and better and started to believe again that I could win the sprint as well. I think Nicholas Paul had a great ride, he surprised me. I felt like I could just get him at the end so I was really happy to still win. For sure the other riders can challenge me. A lot of them can. But for now, I’m on top and it feels good, very good.”
Women’s Endurance League – Women’s Scratch
A false start due to a mechanical issue for one rider left the group raring to go. On the restart, Katie Archibald (Great Britain) attacked two laps in and quickly gained 50 meters on the main bunch. With 11 laps to go, the Women’s Endurance leader was caught by a the main bunch however. The race remained hectic until a final bunch sprint, which Archibald finding her second wind to take the win ahead of close rival Maggie Coles-Lyster and Japan’s Yumi Kajihara.
Katie Archibald (Great Britain), winner of the Women’s Scratch, said: “I was racing in Copenhagen last week and I practised some things. So when I practised going for the lap, I hated it, and I really didn’t want to do it. I tried to force myself, but I have not got the strength to go there myself. I think I need to work out being with the right people and choosing the right moment. From then, I was trying to reset. It was quite scary at the end because there were so many attacks going in. It feels good to extend my lead, yes, a bit less pressure for the high pressure one – the elimination.”
Women’s Endurance League – Women’s Elimination
The race began very quickly, which caught out veteran rider Kirsten Wild (Netherlands) – the first to be eliminated. Katie Archibald (Great Britain) survived an early scare shortly afterwards, surging past Eukene Larrarte (Spain) on the line. Local favorite Olivija Baleisyte (Lithuania) enjoyed a crowd pleasing race that saw her finish 7th. Katie Archibald continued her dominant form and outsprinted rival Maggie Coles-Lyster (Canada) to avoid elimination with four riders remaining. Archibald then faced Anita Yvonne Stenberg (Norway) for the finale and comfortably distanced her before crossing the line.
Katie Archibald (Great Britain), winner of the Women’s Elimination, said: “I went in solely looking for Maggie [Coles-Lyster] who’s the other contender for the main overall right now. She’s been very, very strong so far. She was sat at the front for so long that I thought the only way for it was that I’m going to have to get to the front – and see if she gets trapped in that box. It didn’t work first time, it didn’t work second time, I could then see that she has gone all the way around so I just came in but that didn’t work either. So we get down to the final four and I’m like “ok, there’s a bit of room here”, I decided to focus. It was seriously hard, especially when she was coming under in the last minute, she had the run into the rider in front and I’m just like – “let’s go!”.”
Men’s Endurance League – Men’s Scratch
Leader’s Jersey wearer Corbin Strong sat in the wheels for the majority of the 20 lap race, saving energy towards the back of a strung out field. The pace ebbed and flowed before a final eighteen man bunch sprint that left Strong unprepared. Spain’s Sebastian Mora surged to win it on the line, ahead of Rhys Britton (Great Britain) and Gavin Hoover (USA).
Sebastián Mora (Spain), winner of the Men’s Scratch, said: “I think the race was very controlled, it looked very different from Mallorca. It was a good result, it is very important for the final result and I am looking forward to continuing. It feels very good to race in this event. It feels very different. I like the race, I like the UCI Track Champions League, and I think it’s very important for track cycling.”
Men’s Endurance League – Men’s Elimination
After a disappointing start to round two, Corbin Strong (New Zealand) needed a good result in the Men’s Elimination to retain his leader’s jersey. A mechanical issue for a rider led to a race neutralisation that unsettled the nerves of a fast-paced field. Rhys Britton (Great Britain), second in the Scratch, left the race early after the restart. Then, in a shock exit, Strong was eliminated shortly afterwards with several riders remaining. Gavin Hoover (USA) followed him. The race culminated in a one vs one between Men’s Scratch winner Sebastian Mora (Spain) and New Zealand’s Aaron Gate. Sebastian Mora claimed victory in the final sprint, and with it, the lead in the overall standings.
Sebastián Mora (Spain), winner of the Men’s Scratch, said: “I have won the Scratch, I have won the Elimination. It’s a different race but in the Elimination I tried to spend all of the time at the front to control the other riders. In the sprint it was very, very hard but my feelings here in Lithuania are very, very good. The people of Lithuania are fantastic. It feels great to win two out of two. It’s very difficult to win two races in one day. It’s a good day for me and I will try to continue this feeling for the next race. I think it will be difficult to win every time but for me it’s perfect.”