Harrie Lavreysen has heaped praise on his fellow countryman Jeffrey Hoogland ahead of the latest round of the UCI Track Champions League.
Sprint stars Lavreysen and Hoogland are a rare pair. It’s hard to think of any other two athletes who are as tight away from the field of sporting competition as these two are, while being the most fearsome of foes on it.
“It’s easy for me, because I won the Olympics and World Championships,” says Lavreysen, of maintaining his off-the-track friendship with fellow countryman Hoogland. “I have a lot of respect for Jeffrey.”
In fact, it’s been a while since Hoogland beat his compatriot, four years his junior, in a major final, but that won’t stop him trying. He knows he can, because he has, as recently as the opening race of the opening round of the UCI Track Champions League sprint competition. Lavreysen out-did him in the semi-final, however, before going on to crush the Russian, Mikhail Yakovlev in the final.
The Dutch pair did not quite dominate proceedings in Mallorca, but the aggregate of results from that night’s racing mean Lavreysen and Hoogland head to Lithuania in 1st and 3rd place overall. With a lot of racing left in this series, just four points separate them in the standings.
“Every day is like a race, because I don’t want to be slower than Jeff,” says Lavreysen.
I just go full gas every day.
Hoogland is bashful about his chances against his pal.
“I’m not sure if I’m at the right level at the moment to beat him,” he says. “I hope I can have some good finals with him, but I guess we’ll have to see.”
As close as they are, there are some things it’s better not to discuss, he says: “We don’t really talk about the race tactics, what he can do better, or what I can do better. It’s better to keep that separate.”
For Lavreysen, “it’s hard because the sprint is a really technical game. I almost know what he will think, but he also knows what I think, so… It’s a thinking game.”
Because they train together every day, he says, “I think we also know we make each other better. So maybe [if we weren’t so close] we wouldn’t be on top of the world.”
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The UCI Track Champions League returns for round two on November 27 and you can watch all of the action live on the Eurosport app, eurosport.co.uk and discovery+. Find out more about the “mind-blowing” new era for track cycling.