By Les Clarke in Melbourne
After being held in Sydney for the past three editions, the UCI Track World Cup kicked off its Antipodean leg in the Victorian capital of Melbourne on Thursday night.
It's the first time Melbourne has hosted a World Cup round since the city held the track world championships in 2004. The Hisense Arena, located in the city's Southbank precinct, took on a slight six-day type of appearance; infield dining, dimmed lighting, entertainment breaks and excitable commentary that whipped the spectators into a frenzy all made for a great spectacle.
One of the notable aspects of the night's racing was the promotion of the event, as Melbourne's enthusiastic cycling fans made a statement about the popularity of international track racing. It prompted Cycling Australia President Mike Victor to comment that, "This is a real promotion." This is in stark contrast to previous editions, where public interest was relatively low, despite world record performances and world champions going head-to-head.