By Ben Atkins
A record 274 entries from 36 countries and 11 trade teams will be competing over three days of events in the final round of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Manchester on February 23-25. The field will be liberally studded with World and Olympic Champions, and World Record Holders as the build up continues to next month's World Championships.
In the Men's Sprint events a full home team is led by Olympic Kilo Champion Chris Hoy who will be pushed hard by individuals and teams from top sprinting nations. Riders including Holland's World 200m Record Holder Theo Bos, Australia's Double Olympic Champion Ryan Bayley, Germany's Olympic Team Sprint Champion Stefan Nimke and France's World Kilometre Record Holder Arnaud Tournant will be leading the charge for their respective nations.
The Men's Endurance events will be just as hard fought. A large contingent of British Riders led by Olympic Pursuit Champion Bradley Wiggins will be challenged particularly by the Australian Pursuit Team. Australia's Bradley McGee chooses not to take part in the team race, but will be contesting the Individual Pursuit, where once again he will come up against Wiggins. Hong Kong rider Kam-Po Wong - fresh from his victory in the Asian Games Road Race - will contest the scratch race.
Women's racing will be just as competitive. The British Riders will be out in force, but competition from Australian Sisters Kerrie and Olympic 500m Champion Anna Meares. One of three Dutch Women travelling will be former World BMX Champion Willy Kanis, who has successfully made the transition to the track.
Tickets are still available on the event's website www.worldtrackcycling.com or from the ticket hotline: + 44 (0) 871 230 2621.
Cyclingnews will be providing full and up to the minute coverage of racing over all three days. A full preview of the event, including a complete rider list and event timetable, will be up on the site soon.