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First cyclists named to new ‘Champions League’ track series

Backers are hoping inaugural five-round series will pump new energy into track cycling.

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The first round of cyclists are confirmed for the new racing series set to debut in November that backers hope will spice up fan interest in track cycling.

The five-round series — dubbed the UCI Track Champions League — will pit the world’s best track cyclists against one another in a fan-friendly, compact format ideal for TV viewing.

On Friday, organizers revealed the names of the first batch of sprint riders to compete — six men and six women — who will be part of the overall field of qualified riders.

Also read: Track cycling seeing a major overhaul

Officials said 12 more pre-qualified endurance riders will be named soon, and another 48 will qualify based on past results from the Tokyo Olympics and other major events including the Cali UCI Track Nations Cup and European Track Championships.

Further riders will be selected on their results in the upcoming Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Championships later this month, officials said Friday. Previous palmarès and general status in the sport are also considered.

The remaining 12 pre-qualified riders and 48 riders yet to qualify will be revealed prior to the first round in Mallorca, Spain, on November 6.

Among Friday’s confirmations of the 12 pre-qualified sprinters are four Olympic gold medalists and two UCI world champions, including Kelsey Mitchell (Canada), a Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medalist in the sprint.

The series is being backed by Discovery Sports Events, which will broadcast the events live internationally across its different outlets.

“The caliber of the riders announced today clearly illustrates our intent to bring together the best of the best male and female track cyclists in the world,” said François Ribeiro, Head of Eurosport Events. “Securing such high-quality talent combined with an explosive, unpredictable racing format, is a key step in Discovery Sports Events’ ambition to create the most compelling series in track cycling. We look forward to announcing more great riders before the start of the season.”

Women’s Sprint:

Emma Hinze (Germany) – Olympic silver medalist and three-time UCI World Champion
Mathilde Gros (France) – UCI World Championships bronze medalist and two-time European Champion
Simona Krupeckaité (Lithuania) – Two-time UCI World Champion and three-time European Champion
Kelsey Mitchell (Canada) – Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medalist
Shanne Braspennincx (Netherlands) – Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medalist
Olena Starikova (Ukraine) – Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medalist

Men’s Sprint:

Harrie Lavreysen (Netherlands) – Two-time Olympic gold medalist, six-time UCI World Champion and three-time European Champion
Nicholas Paul (Trinidad & Tobago) – Pan American Track Championship gold medalist and Flying 200m World Record holder
Jeffrey Hoogland (The Netherlands) – Olympic gold medalist, four-time UCI World Champion and eight-time European Champion
Vasilijus Lendel (Lithuania) – European Championship bronze medalist and UCI World Cup gold medalist
Maximilian Levy (Germany) – Four-time UCI World Champion, six-time European Champion and three-time Olympic medalist
Denis Dmitriev (Russia) – Four-time European Champion, former UCI World Champion and Olympic bronze medalist