Yes! That’s right! I managed to get a ticket to the 2015 UCI Track World Championships in
First, before you keep reading, check out this prowomenscycling.com post about how to watch from home. Sarah’s put up an excellent guide to follow the action, including what to do if the UCI’s youtube channel is geo-blocked for you. Check it out!
What’s left for me is gossip: obviously, I’m most excited to see the stars of the sixes race without the benefit of spotlights, loud music and a disco ball, but more faithful track fans will have followed the world cup track meets – last November in Guadalajara, Mexico; last December in London, UK, and last January in Cali, Colombia. Anyway, here’s a couple of races to watch out for:
The Omnium (obviously). Much has made of the rivalry between Laura Trott and Sarah Hammer, and for good reason¹: everyone wants to see if the American will win the stripes for the third year in a row. But I’m tipping Jolien D’Hoore, riding for Belgium, with flying Dutchwoman Kirsten Wild² hot on her heels. And I’ll be yelling for Marlies Mejía García, who took fifth in London (and a silver in Guadalajara), because it’s cool to see what the Cuban team can do. Fun fact that Cuba brings a women’s selection but no men’s, no?
And sprinters! It’s hard to ignore Guo Shuang’s dominance in the Keirin these past months. But Elis Ligtlee won’t let her go easily, and Kristina Vogel will be trying her best to defend her title. I’d like to see Juliana Gaviria.
Speaking of Ms. Gaviria, turns out that there are men racing too (!), among them her brother Fernando Gaviria, who you may remember as The Guy That Beat Cavendish Twice In San Luis. Or at least, that was a popular headline in the cycling press last month; as always, check the Alps & Andes blog for, well, real content.
I still don’t understand why the women don’t have their own Madison – it’s a bummer because it’s my favorite event³ – but the men’s is going to be a great race. I spent all winter listening to whisperings about Jasper de Buyst and Otto Vergaerde. While it’s true that six-day racing is heavy on northern european hype, the strength of De Buyst’s accelerations cannot be exaggerated. The 21-year-old was disqualified last year, but he will return wiser and, most likely, even faster.
Spanish Balearic⁴ duo of David Muntaner and Albert Torres won’t go down without a fight. They’ve been spending time refining their technique, and if they race with the form that won the title last year then they’ll be the team to beat. I’m also very excited to watch the European champions Andreas Graf and Andres Müller compete; while others are racing, these two are playing chess, calculating attacks, and finding wheels with one eye on the scoreboard.
As far as the Keirin goes: who could forget Fabian Puerta Zapata’s win in Cali? The home crowd must have helped, but he’s leading UCI’s points world cup standings. Still, Jason Kenny’s not going to make it easy for him, and – above all – keeping François Pervis off the top step of the podium is never an easy task.
Spectators don’t have it easy this year, either: escaping the clutches of the City of Lights and its wine, cheese, museums, expositions, and – finally – good coffee, is a challenge. But well worth it for some of the best track racing of the year!
1. Probably plenty of bad puns, as well, but I’ll save that for another post.
2. See footnote #1.
4. Balearish? Balearese?