The UCI Track World Cup makes its way to Cali, Colombia, for round three in the 2009/10 series and as is the case most seasons, this year's event promises a few surprises in the absence of some World Cup regulars. While some of the bigger cycling nations leave their prime riders at home to avoid the long flight to South America, the competition is often intriguing and some new faces are revealed.
It's therefore ironic that a veteran, local lady Maria Luisa Calle, will lead Colombia's charge. The 41-year-old former scratch race world champion took silver behind Australia's Anna Meares in the women's 500m time trial at the 2007 world championships in Mallorca, Spain. She still possesses the ability to mix sprint and endurance disciplines in her repertoire and will be a home favourite.
Simona Krupeckaite of Lithuania may have something to say about that, however. The current world record holder and world champion in the 500m TT won three gold medals at last year's event in Cali and took out the women's keirin at World Cup round in Manchester earlier this season.
Cofidis' small squad is a quality outfit, with Dutchman Teun Mulder, fast young Frenchman Kevin Sireau, enduro man Leonardo Fabio Duque and experienced sprinter Francois Pervis making the trip to Colombia. Pervis will resume his battle with big German Maximilian Levy; the keirin world champion is also riding in Cali.
Men's scratch race world champion Morgan Kniesky of France will be pushed hard by Argentina's Walter Fernando Pérez and Greece's Ioannis Tamouridis, the latter displaying what he's capable of during the points race in the Melbourne leg of this season's World Cup series.
In the women's endurance events, another local rider, Yumari Gonzalez, will be one to watch. The 2007 scratch race world champion won the world title again in Poland earlier this year, beating Lizzie Armitstead and Belinda Goss.
Meanwhile, Italian pocket rocket Giorgia Bronzini, points race world champion, beat Yumari Gonzalez in Poland last March and will be looking to do the same in Cali. She won the event in Melbourne and has cemented her place as one of Europe's best female track cycling exports.
Dual individual pursuit world champion Sarah Hammer makes her return to the World Cup circuit with a scheduled appearance in Colombia. The American is always a chance against the clock and will undoubtedly enter the event as one of the favourites.