UCI Track Champions League: Highlights as Harrie Lavreysen is dealt his first sprint defeat in France
Matthew Richardson topples the Dutch powerhouse, with Eiya Hashimoto also suffering a surprise early elimination and Katie Archibald continuing to reign
For the first time in this year's UCI Track Champions League (TCL) series, the Netherlands' Harrie Lavreysen was defeated on the velodrome, with the 13-time world champion pipped to the line in the Individual Sprint final by Australia's Matthew Richardson.
This was certainly the upset of the night, because whilst Richardson is a bonafide superstar in his own right, Lavreysen is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and had headed into Round 3 of the Track Champions League having won the Individual Sprint and Keirin events in both Mallorca and Berlin.
For the third round of the TCL, the travelling spectacle touched down in the French town of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines and raced on the boards of the Velodrome National de St-Quentin-En-Yvelines. It will be here in nine months' time where the world's best will go up against one another once again in the Paris Olympic Games.
For Saturday night, however, all-important points were up for grabs as the TCL reached its halfway point. Having appeared unstoppable thus far in the Sprint category, jersey holder and current world champion Lavreysen was always going to be a tough man to beat in France. But Australia's Richardson cut an imposing figure as he sculpted the narrative in the pair's first meeting in an Individual Sprint final.
Taking the initiative, Richardson swung he and Lavreysen high up onto the banking of the velodrome, before leading out the sprint and proving too powerful for the Dutchman to conquer. With his runner-up spot, Lavreysen still maintains an overall lead in the Sprint category, but Richardson's outstanding performance will have fans salivating ahead of their next showdown in London's Lee Valley VeloPark for Rounds 4 and 5 next weekend.
Speaking after the finish, Lavreysen accepted that his winning streak could not go on forever, whilst pointing towards the opportunity for revenge next week.
"Losing the Sprint final was actually a bit of a relief because I knew I couldn't continue my winning streak forever," admitted Lavreysen, "and it's given me added motivation for London.
"Overall tonight has been good. It's been the toughest round yet and I'm happy to still be in the lead, and I am looking forward to London."
Richardson, meanwhile, explained that a tactical change gave him an advantage and opened up a route to victory against the man many had said could not be stopped in this year's series.
"Normally I'm not so good on the front against Harrie," revealed Richardson. "So I thought I'd try something different and keep it as slow as possible, and it worked. I kept him stuck towards the top of the track and then produced my fastest sprint possible in the last lap. I'm on a high having won that and I'd like to take this momentum forward to London now."
The gap between the pair had stood at 22 points going into the French round, and despite Richardson's performance in the Individual Sprint, Lavreysen was able to extend the Australian's deficit to 24 points as a result of his bounce back performance in the Keirin.
Appearing more determined than ever having suffered the defeat to Richardson, Lavreysen blasted his way to the final of the night's Keirin events, and once there, it became clear that the Dutchman was not going to allow anybody to stand in his way.
Marching out from the start at a canter, Lavreysen manoeuvred his way to the front of the pack before the final lap bell had even rung, and once in position, he swiftly opened up a gap that would not be closed before he rode across the line. It was a domineering display from a rider who still maintains a firm grip on his lead in the leader's jersey.
Behind the vengeful Lavreysen, it was Poland's Mateusz Rudyk who actually managed to come home in second place, forcing Richardson to settle for third. Lavreysen continues to lead the classification with 117 points, with Richardson his nearest competitor on 93 points, shortly followed by Rudyk with 83 points.
Ellesse Andrews beaten by Alessa-Catriona Pröpster, but also extends her advantage in the sprint
In the women's field, it was a similar tale as the thus-far impressive Ellesse Andrews (New Zealand) came undone by Germany's Alessa-Catriona Pröpster in the Keirin event. The German came into the third round looking to hit back having been relieved of her Sprint leader's jersey by Andrews in Berlin, and did so in tremendous fashion by following a crafty move by Emma Finucane (United Kingdom) in advance of the final lap.
Able to ride her way to victory in the Keirin, the result made up for the disappointment of missing out on the Individual Sprint final earlier in the evening for Pröpster. In the earlier event, Andrews had been able to extend her overall lead in the Sprint classification by sweeping aside Canada's Kelsey Mitchell in the Individual Sprint final.
Although it was a bruising defeat in the final itself, Mitchell can be pleased with her efforts in reaching the final two, as she looks to carry this momentum into London next week.
Andrews and Pröpster remain closely matched in the overall Sprint standings, with the Kiwi holding a slim advantage of 9 points over the German. Finucane currently rounds out the podium on 63 points, but has Nicky Degrendele (Belgium), Martha Bayona (Colombia) and Mitchell hot on her heels.
Only Dylan Bibic doubles up in France, as Eiya Hashimoto bows out early
In the men's Endurance category, Canada's Dylan Bibic produced a flawless performance throughout the evening to win both the Scratch and Elimination races. Prior to Saturday evening, Japan's Eiya Hashimoto held the lead of the Endurance standings, but a sub-par week left the 29-year-old in third place behind new leader Bibic, and second-placed Jules Hesters (Belgium).
First up was the Scratch race, in which the pack stayed together for the most part as a nervous atmosphere descended over the velodrome. With no long-range moves delivered, it soon became clear that the race would be decided in a sprint finish, which suited the well-positioned Bibic.
The 20-year-old powered his way across the line in first, and was soon followed by compatriot Mathias Guillemette, as Canada notched up an admirable 1-2 finish.
Bibic's night was then made all the better by Hashimoto's surprising early exit from the Elimination event, which gave the Canadian greater incentive to cling onto the coattails of the likes of Hesters, who provided Bibic his final test on the night. The two went head-to-head at the end of the Elimination, and it was Bibic who unleashed an acceleration that Hesters simply could not follow.
The back-to-back victories hand Bibic a tidy 26-point lead in the Endurance category, Hashimoto sitting only a point behind Hesters in third place. The battle for the podium will rage into Rounds 4 and 5 next weekend, with the London crowd offered a dog in the fight through Mark Stewart and William Tidball sitting in fourth and fifth, respectively.
Katie Archibald continues to dominate, but Sarah Van Dam picks up her first victory
As was to be expected in the women's Endurance category, the United Kingdom's Katie Archibald picked up where she left off in the Elimination race to handily dispatch of the field, despite Anita Yvonne Stenberg's (Norway) battling performance to finish second.
It is the tenth Elimination victory in the Track Champions League career of Archibald, who carried on her perfect record in the discipline throughout this year's third edition of the series. However, the British star does not often have things her own way in the women's Scratch, and Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines proved no different.
Instead, the door was opened for the Netherlands' Sarah Van Dam to achieve a maiden TCL success following a last-minute attack. It was a surprising but well-earned victory for the 21-year-old, who now sits fifth place overall in the Endurance standings.
Lily Williams (United States) was forced to settle for ninth in the Scratch, with Maggie Coles-Lyster's (Canada) second place on the night enough to shoot her up to third in the overall standings, ahead of the American.
Riding to third in the Scratch, Archibald now takes a 12-point lead over Stenberg onto home turf next weekend, with just a single point separating Coles-Lyster in third from Williams in fourth.
When can I watch the Track Champions League on GCN+?
All five rounds of the UCI Track Champions League will be broadcast worldwide, live and ad-free on GCN+, with live shows providing additional analysis and interviews from inside the velodrome. The schedule for the 2023 series is as follows:
- October 21 | Round 1 - Mallorca (Velòdrom Illes Balears)
- October 28 | Round 2 - Berlin (Berlin Velodrom)
- November 4 | Round 3 - Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (Velodrome National de St-Quentin-En-Yvelines)
- November 10 | Round 4 - London (Lee Valley VeloPark)
- November 11 | Round 5 - London (Lee Valley VeloPark)
Head over to GCN+ now to check the broadcast times in your region so you don't miss a minute of the TCL action. Plus, catch up with all the behind-the-scenes action from the 2022 series with our Back on Track documentary series.
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