Matthew Richardson was stranded at home in Australia for the first year of the UCI Track Champions League in 2021, but he exploded onto the scene in season two, the only man to consistently beat defending Sprint champion Harrie Lavreysen in one of the closest and most intense battles of 2022, eventually wrapping up the blue jersey by just two points.

Matthew recently spoke to the new track-focused podcast The Piste Take about his experiences last season, and how he has grown into a huge fan of the series:

How was the UCI Track Champions League from your point of view?

It was sick. I didn’t really know what to expect, I only knew it was going to be pretty hard with tight turnarounds between Keirins and Sprints. I hadn’t done three-up sprints before so that was also going to be a good learning experience, especially looking ahead to the Olympic Games.

How did you handle the tight turnarounds?

There were times I’d come in and I’d be absolutely fine, then two seconds later I’d be on my hands and knees.

What do you think of the overall event format?

The organisers really know what they’re doing. I watched the first season at home and thought [the look and feel of the UCI Track Champions League] was insane, from the graphics and the show that they put on around it to the racing itself. It’s not like a Six Day, it’s legitimate racing. I can’t stress that enough.

It was poetic how the Men’s Sprint competition played out, almost too good to be true.

I’ve had a few questions from people about that – asking whether it was fixed – but it was not fixed at all, for anyone wondering!

Was that the first time you’d consistently, or ever, beaten 11-time UCI World Champion Harrie Lavreysen?

He’s always been phenomenal, one of the greatest cyclists I’ve ever seen, beating anyone he comes up against. You just don’t really see that. Harrie rarely has a bad day, and even if he does, he still wins. At first I was just stoked to be competitive against him, and then obviously as the series went on it got closer and closer and my mindset shifted.

How did he take being beaten by you? Did it hurt?

I don’t want to speak for him, but no one likes to lose. In the Men’s Sprint final in the second round in Berlin I pulled the ‘sneaky sausage’ – went up the track then down underneath him, and with a lap to go that’s pretty much game over. Afterwards he wasn’t super happy, but it did fire him up: he beat me in every other Sprint after that.

So now that you’ve watched and raced it, would you say the UCI Track Champions League represents the future of the sport?

I think so, definitely. The production of the event, how many people it reaches, it seems like it should just keep taking off. It’s somewhere that the sport has needed to go for a while. I think Chris [Hoy] said in one of his interviews that it would have been cool to have when he was racing.

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