With important World Championship qualifying points up for grabs, the Manchester UCI World Cup held from December 9-11 will attract some of the World's best track sprinters across the men’s and women’s sprint events.
In the men’s competition the rider to beat will be Olympic Sprint and Keirin Champion Ryan Bayley who will be making the trip to the Manchester Velodrome with Australian sprint legend Shane Kelly. With Jamie Staff, Craig MacLean, Ross Edgar and Matt Crampton racing in either the Keirin or Sprint, the competition between the Aussies and Brits will make for interesting viewing especially in advance of the Commonwealth Games next year.
"The World Cup will be an important part of my training as I will be tapering in a similar way to my preparation for the Commonwealth Games", commented MacLean. "I’ll be riding the Keirin which I haven’t raced very much so it will be interesting to see how I go. It’s always good to race against the Australians particularly in the UK so it should be exciting to watch."
Other star contenders include the World Keirin Champion Tuen Mulder and World Kilo Champion Theo Bos, Junior Sprint World Champion and rising German star Maximilian Levy, Polish Damian Zielinski and experienced Italian sprinter Roberto Chiappa, who will be racing in Manchester for the first time since being disqualified at the World Championships in 2000. With French showman Arnaud Tournant and team mate Mickaël Bourgain also in the line, as well as riders from more than 15 other countries, the competition will be fierce.
In the women’s events, World Sprint Champion Victoria Pendleton will be flying the flag for Great Britain and is keen not to disappoint in front of the home crowd. "I hope I don't disappoint too many people because I know my form is not as good as it will be for the Commonwealth Games and World's. I'll do my best obviously and I hope its good enough. Being on my home track always gives me added confidence," she said.
Pendleton will need to perform for qualifying points in the Keirin and 500m Time Trial, which she acknowledges will test her abilities. "When you spend a whole day focused on the sprint on day one, and then on day two do the 500 followed by another day in the Keirin, it is actually a hard program," Pendleton explained. However, she hopes to be up to the challenge and follow up the strong results from the Moscow World Cup to qualify for the World's in both events. "Manchester being my final World Cup before the Commonwealth Games would be the ideal situation for me," Pendleton concluded.
Opposition in these races will come from French sprinter and current Keirin World Champion Clara Sanchez, 500m TT World Champion Natallia Tsylinskaya from Belarus and the Junior Sprint and 500m TT World Champion Lizandra Guerra. The presence of Australian riders Anna Meares and Kristine Bayley will also spice up the competition ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
The men’s Keirin final and women’s sprint final will take place on Friday, December 9, with the men’s sprint and women’s 500m TT finals on Saturday. The women’s Keirin and the JKA Japanese Keirin will be held on Sunday. Tickets and full details of the race programme from each day at the Manchester UCI World Cup are available at www.worldtrackcycling.com.