After two visits to Mexico last season – as well as the round in Manchester – the UCI Track Cycling World Cup returns to Gaudalajara this weekend, with further rounds in London in December and Cali, Colombia – scene of the 2014 World Championships – ahead of the 2015 Worlds in Paris at the end of February.
trackcycling takes a look ahead at the first round. The full race schedule can be found here.
After an evening of Team Sprint and Team Pursuit qualifying sessions on Friday night, the first full day of competition sees no less than six competitions decided but opens with the first day of the Women’s Omnium.
It’s difficult to look past Great Britain’s Laura Trott – and her recent form at Revolution 46 allowed her to test herself against the new Omnium format – and reigning World Champion Sarah Hammer of the USA who was also in fine form at the recent LA Grand Prix. Annette Edmondson of Australia – who took Bronze in Cali in February – is also in with a shout.
The Men’s competition, which also kicks off on Day 1, is more open and it’s Elia Viviani – winner of the recent European title in Guadeloupe – who is probably the closest to a ‘favourite’ in the field although Jon Dibben of Great Britain – runner-up in Guadeloupe – is another one to watch.
The Women’s Sprint competition has been dominated in recent times by the Germans with Kristina Vogel the reigning World Champion in the individual event but the Chinese have been close for a while and in Guadeloupe it was Russia’s Anastasia Voinova who took the Gold with Tania Calvo of Spain in Silver and Vogel taking the Bronze. Watch out, too, for the fast improving Malaysian Fateheh Mustapa who ran Britain’s Jess Varnish close in the Commonwealth Games Bronze medal ride. Our money, though, is on a repeat of the Commonwealth Games Final between the victorious Stephanie Morton and the legendary Anna Meares.
Like the Women’s Omnium, the Team Pursuit podium has an air of inevitability. The Great Britain quartet – to be drawn from a squad that includes Joanna Rowsell, Elinor Barker, Laura Trott, Katie Archibald and Ciara Horne – European Champions all and World Champions all bar Horne – start as favourites and it’s hard to imagine them not making the Gold Medal Final. Their most likely opponents are Australa, with Annette Edmondson, Georgia Baker, Elissa Wundersitz and Rebecca Wiasak the likely line-up. Canada should challenge, too – as might, after a short absence from the World stage – the New Zealand squad.
Again, like the Omnium, the Men’s TP is harder to call. Australia are favourites for Gold, without a doubt. Whether it’s this year’s World Champions Glenn O’Shea, Mitchell Mulhern, Alexander Edmondson and Luke Davison – or some other line-up entirely – the Aussies always will always send a phenomenally capable quartet. Despite the addition of Bradley Wiggins to the England line-up at the Commonwealth Games – and his widely publicised desire to be part of the team in Rio – Gudalajara sees a mixture of (relative) youth and experience with Jon Dibben joining his Eurooean gold medal winning team mates Andy Tennat and Ed Clancy, plus Manxman Mark Christian.
If the World Championship is anything to go by, Russia, New Zealand, Denmark and Switzerland will also be in the hunt for the medals but there are rumoured to be as many as 40 teams entered for the event!
In the Team Sprint the podium looks likely to include World Champions New Zealand – with Ethan Mitchell, Eddie Dawkins and Sam Webster carrying their form through from Cali too Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games. The Germans will want revenge for their surprise defeat in Cali – with Robert Foerstemann, Joachim Eilers and Tobias Wachter looking to build on their European form and top the podium – but they’ll also have to contend with that resurgent French squad.
That leaves the Women’s Team Sprint and while Kristina Vogel and Miriam Welte have looked all but invincible for the last few years, they were beaten by the Russian duo of Anastasiia Voinova and Daria Shmeleva in Gaudeloupe. Watch out, too, for the potentially potent pairing of Anna Meares and Stephanie Morton of Australia.
In a slightly less packed programme, Day 2 sees the completion of both Omniums, the Men’s Sprint competition and the Women’s Keirin. France’s Francois Pervis dominated the Sprint competitions in Cali as part of a French programme rejuvenated by Kiwi coach Justin Grace. Grace is now part of the Great Britain setup, but the momentum still seems to be there with Gregory Bauge winning the Sprint competition in Guadeloupe, the French taking Silver in the Team Pursuit and Men’s Keirin. Sam Webster was on fine form in Glasgow and may also be a contender, but we suspect the main challenge for Gold will come from the Germans.
The Women’s Keirin is even harder to call than the rest of the program and, although Germany’s Vogel will be there are thereabouts, the Russian looks strong and Meares has been known to do well behind the derny…