Having watched the 2021 UCI Track Champions League season from the sidelines as a TV pundit for Eurosport, Dame Laura Kenny will be making her debut on the track this year.
One of the most decorated British athletes to ever grace the sport, the 30-year-old has achieved no less than five Olympic golds, seven rainbow jerseys and 14 European titles in her impressive career to date.
Kenny will be joining current champion Katie Archibald, who continues her return to the track following time out from racing in 2022, with the pair being good friends and former team-mates for Great Britain.
When her participation was confirmed, Kenny said: “I’m really looking forward to competing in my first UCI Track Champions League.
“I felt like a fan when I was watching it last season and every round was packed with exciting and spectacular racing.
“The new format and high-tech presentation that the series brings has taken track cycling to a whole new level and I can’t wait to be part of it.”
Other new talents joining the legendary British duo on the women’s roster are reigning UCI world and Olympic champion Jennifer Valente (USA), two-time European champion Rachele Barbieri (Italy), current UCI World Scratch champion Martina Fidanza (Italy), and multiple Junior UCI world champion Tsuyaka Uchino (Japan). reigning European Scratch champion Anita Stenberg (Norway) is also returning to fight for the title after missing out in 2021.
Which discipline will Kenny and Archibald compete in?
Great Britain are the most represented nation with six riders competing in the Endurance events: Kenny, Archibald, Sophie Lewis, Oliver Wood, William Perrett and Mark Stewart.
Riders from 16 countries will be taking part in the Endurance competitions, with an athlete from Sweden (Gustav Johansson) in action for the very first time.
The full 36-rider Endurance roster for the UCI Track Champions League is as follows:
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Kenny almost quit cycling after miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy
Kenny said that she considered walking away from cycling after being left at “breaking point” by a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy.
The five-time Olympic gold medallist revealed in April that she had miscarried at nine weeks last November, and was forced to have a fallopian tube removed in January after a fertilised egg implanted itself outside of the womb.
Kenny said that she was ready to quit the sport at the start of the year, but support from her husband, Jason, convinced her to continue as she described cycling as “a safe place”.
“I felt like nothing was going our way at all,” said Kenny. “January was a tipping point, I was at breaking point.
“Without Jason, I think I’d have just canned everything and just gone, ‘You know what, I can’t even cope with doing any of this [cycling]’.
“But I grabbed for my safety blanket and decided I needed to ride my bike again. That’s what I’ve done for the last 13 years. It feels like a safe place.”
Tragic death of Archibald’s partner
Since her triumph at the inaugural edition of the Track Champions League, Archibald has had to deal with unimaginable grief after her partner, Scottish mountain bike champion Rab Wardell, died on August 24 after suffering a cardiac arrest while lying in bed.
Archibald paid an emotional tribute to Wardell as he was laid to rest following his death aged 37.
Hundreds of people gathered for the funeral in Dunfermline. The procession carrying Wardell’s coffin was accompanied by cyclists.
A milestone for Track Cycling
The first season of the UCI Track Champions League in 2021 proved an unbridled success, achieving its mission of elevating track cycling to a new level and becoming a key fixture on the world cycling calendar.
The series reached 149 million viewers across Warner Bros. Discovery’s network (comprising discovery+, Eurosport and GCN+) alone, with 26 additional broadcast partners ensuring it was screened in 206 countries across the globe.
The competition format has been specifically designed to deliver quickfire, enthralling, and easy-to-understand racing, with a wealth of live rider data on the official UCI Track Champions League app helping to provide an unrivalled viewing experience.
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 St Quentin-en-Yvelines (Saturday 26 November) before culminating with a double-header at London’s Lee Valley VeloPark on Friday and Saturday 2-3 December.
The racing format will remain unchanged, with Sprint riders taking part in Individual Sprint and Keirin events during each round while the Endurance riders battle it out in both Elimination and Scratch races.
Four champions (one male and one female rider in both the Sprint and Endurance categories) will then be crowned at the end of the series.
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After a great debut season, the UCI Track Champions League is back for season two, with Laura Kenny joining the party. You can watch it all live and on demand on discovery+. We will have extensive coverage across eurosport.com and the first race is in Mallorca on Saturday Nov 12, with the action starting at 5:30pm UK time.