The second round of the World Cup Series takes place in London this coming weekend and – with many of the teams using Round 3 in Cali to try some ‘wild card’ riders as they build for Rio 2016, Round 2 is being seen by many as the ‘dress rehearsal’ for the World Championships in Paris next February.
The program kicks off on Friday with over 400 riders involved over the three days. The large numbers of riders – and a couple of extra events – mean that there are three long sessions and those lucky enough to get tickets are in for a treat.
Friday – which in Mexico saw only qualifying for the Team Pursuit and Team Sprint – sees five medals awarded. The Women’s Scratch Final takes place in the morning with the traditional Friday events having qualifying in the morning, Team Pursuit Semi Finals at the start of the evening session and Team Pursuit and Team Sprint Finals later on – as well as a Men’s Points Race!
UCI Track World Cup Series 2014-15 Round I – Guadalajara, Mexico
Session I – Friday
Men’s Team Sprint – Germany
The Men’s Team Sprint has now become a four way tussle with Great Britain and France back on form and challenging the briefly dominant Germans and the current World Champions New Zealand. It’s a really hard call between the four of them, but we’re pretty sure Germany will make the Final against either the Kiwis or the Brits.
The Women’s event should be more straightforward with the German duo of Kristina Vogel and Miriam Welte favourites to come out on top – assuming they don’t get struck down by food poisoning in the Far East (End). Silver is likely to be between Russia and Australia – but Great Britain duo Jess Varnish and Vicky Williamson could also figure.
The Women’s Team Pursuit Gold looks as much of a formality. There’s fierce competition for Silver, but the Gold looks destined for Great Britain unless something goes dramatically wrong. Australia, Canada and a resurgent New Zealand are the likely challengers.
The Men’s Team Pursuit is a little closer and again the home team look to be coming back to form but we think it’s still going to be Australia at the top of the pile with GB battling Switzerland, New Zealand and Germany for the other medals.
As in Mexico, Saturday sees the Women’s Sprint competition and Men’s Keirin started and concluded and is the first day of both Omniums. Unlike Mexico, it also includes a Men’s Madison and a Women’s Points Race.
The Women’s Sprint is wide open with Russia’s Anastasia Voinova hoping to carry forward her fine form from Guadeloupe and Guadalajara and China’s Shuang Guo – runner-up in Mexico, Ellis Ligtlee of the Netherlands and Anna Meares of Australia likely to challenge.
The Men’s Keirin isn’t quite a lottery, but the days of domination by a single rider seem to have disappeared with Sir Chris Hoy’s retirement. Great Britain will be in contention with Jason Kenny and Guadalajara winner Joachim Eilers of Germany will be strong, but we fancy current triple World Champion Francois Pervis for the win.
In the Omniums, Laura Trott looks likely to return for Great Britain and – in front of a home crowd – it’s hard to see past her. But Belgium’s Jolien D’Hoore won on merit in Mexico and will be there or thereabouts as will Malgorzata Wojtyra of Poland.
Italy’s Elia Viviani will be hoping for a better start to the Men’s Omnium than he had in Mexico with a crash in the opening event leaving him to fight back from last place to miss out on a podium by a single point. Mexico winner Lucas Liss of Germany is absent, so Australia’s Glenn O’Shea will be favourite for the top step of the podium but it should be close enough to make the closing Points Race a nail-biter.
Sunday flips the sprint competitions with the Men’s Sprint and the Women’s Keirin and sees the conclusion of both Omnium events.
As with the Keirin, the Sprint competition is likely to be dominated by the fastest man in history – Pervis – but Kenny has a habit of overcoming his slight disadvantage in qualifying and may well offer a challenge.
If she’s at her best, Kristina Vogel should take he Women’s Keirin but Guo will push her hard and Voinova is likely to be in the mix.
It’s going to be quite a (long) weekend!