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UCI Track Champions League - Preview

The women's Keirin at the Track World Championships
The women's Keirin at the Track World Championships (Image credit: SWPix)

The UCI Track Champions League series kicks off in Mallorca on November 6, launching the experiment to spice up the post-Worlds track racing schedule after the reorganisation of the calendar shifted major events to summer and fall.

Gone is the Track World Cup and in its place is the UCI-created Nations Cups - although those three events were dwarfed by the Tokyo Olympic Games and the Track Champions League.

The Track Champions League brings together 72 of the best track racers with equal numbers from the sprint and endurance disciplines of the men's and women's fields for a series beginning at the Velòdrom Illes Balears in Mallorca on Saturday.

Participants include Olympic gold medalists Kelsey Mitchell (Canada), Harrie Lavreysen (Netherlands), Shanne Braspennincx (Netherlands) and Katie Archibald (Great Britain).

Subsequent rounds will be held in Lithuania (November 27), two days in London (December 3-4) and the final round in Israel on December 11. A planned round on November 20 in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines was cancelled.

Read on to find out how to watch the UCI Track Champions League via live stream, no matter your location, with ExpressVPN.

How does the UCI Track Champions League work?

The series intends to have the same riders in every match, with riders earning points in their respective events toward the overall series prize. The leaders of each category – Men’s Endurance, Men’s Sprint, Women’s Endurance and Women’s Sprint –  will get a leader's jersey to wear in the next round, and at the end of the final event the winners will be declared for the four categories.

The races are designed to be compelling for newcomers to the discipline as well as those well-versed in track racing.

Individual Sprint

The UCI Champions League sprints will be different to how they've been conducted at past UCI events, with no qualifying rounds since the best riders earned their spots through the invitation-only entry. Instead, the first rounds will be six heats with three riders racing each other over three laps of the velodrome. The six winners advance to the semifinal where again, it will be three against three. The winners of that round face off against each other for victory. There will be a fascinating change to the tactics needed to get through each round to the final.

Keirin

The Keirin is again lacking the qualifying round and repechages, with three heats of six riders each using the traditional Keirin rules with the top two riders from each heat advancing to the final round of six riders. Unlike the normal Keirin tournaments, the Champions League offers no chance to recoup from a bad race and riders will be highly motivated to give it their all in the first round.

Elimination Race

The Elimination Race has been a thrilling part of the men's and women's Omnium over the past seven years, and for the Champions League the race will be run in the same format: there are sprints every other lap and the last rider across the line is eliminated. The riders are ranked in reverse order of their elimination, with the last two riders remaining on the track sprinting against each other for victory. Gaining a lap doesn't count, so this is the one race where riding tempo at the front can be a benefit, and often the favourites will spend the race on or near the front, riding in the wind rather than saving energy but risking elimination at the back.

Scratch Race

The Scratch Race is as simple as bike racing gets: the riders will race for 20 laps with the first rider across the line at the end declared the winner. Riders can attack and lap the field to gain an advantage but it is decidedly difficult to achieve in such a short race.

Points

For each event, winners earn 25 points and the placings are 20, 16, 13, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 for the top 15 finishers. Points earned in the Sprint and Keirin are combined for the men's and women's Sprint Leader's jersey, and points for the Elimination and Scratch Races combined for the Endurance leader's jersey.

How to watch the UCI Track Champions League events

The UCI Champions League begins at the Velòdrom Illes Balears de Palma, a common training ground for the top riders and a former host of the UCI Track World Championships (2007). There are only four events for men and women – the individual Sprint, Keirin, Elimination Race and Scratch Race. 

It's a compact programme that lasts only three hours, with racing to be broadcast on RTL7 in the Netherlands, RTBF.be in Belgium, SBS in Australia, Sky New Zealand, Colombia’s RTVC, Claro Sports in Latin America, TVN (Poland), SRG SSR (Switzerland), TRT (Turkey), SuperSport (South Africa), Speed (Japan), Channel 6 (Denmark), France Televisions (France), EPT (Greece), and with live streaming on Eurosport, discovery+ and worldwide on GCN+.

You can sign up for a subscription to Eurosport Player for £6.99 / $9.26 for a month, £4.99 / $6.61 for a year-long monthly pass, or £39.99 / $52.99 for a 12-month pass.

Coverage via the GCN+, available on the GCN app, will be available in the UK, around Europe and select other countries around the world. Access in the UK will set you back £39.99 for a year.

If you live outside a broadcast zone or are on holiday outside your country and find that the live streams to be geo-restricted, you can get around this by getting access to them by simulating being back in your home country via a 'virtual private network', or VPN, for your laptop, tablet or mobile.

Our sister site TechRadar tested hundreds of VPNs and recommends the number-one VPN currently available as Express VPN. With ExpressVPN, you can watch on many devices at once including Smart TVs, Fire TV Stick, PC, Mac, iPhone, Android phone, iPads, tablets, etc.

2021 UCI Champions League Dates

  • 6 November: Mallorca (Spain)
  • 27 November: Panevezys, (Lithuania)
  • 3 December: London (Great Britain)
  • 4 December: London (Great Britain)
  • 11 December: Tel Aviv (Israel)

UCI Track Champions League racers

Sprint - Women

  • Lauriane Genest (Canada)
  • Lea Friedrich (Germany)
  • Miriam Vece (Italy)
  • Martha Bayona Pineda (Colombia)
  • Riyu Ohta (Japan)
  • Sophie Capewell (Great Britain)
  • Yana Tyshchenko (Russia)
  • Daria Shmeleva (Russia)
  • Laurine Van Riessen (Netherlands)
  • Anastasiia Voinova (Russia)
  • Mina Sato (Japan)
  • Yuli Paola Verdugo Osuna (Mexico)
  • Emma Hinze (Germany)
  • Mathilde Gros (France)
  • Simona Krupeckaitė (Lithuania)
  • Kelsey Mitchell (Canada)
  • Shanne Braspennincx (Netherlands)
  • Olena Starikova (Ukraine)

Sprint - Men

  • Jean Spies (South Africa)
  • Mateusz Rudyk (Poland)
  • Jair Tjon En Fa (Suriname)
  • Tom Derache (France)
  • Jordan Castle (New Zealand)
  • Kevin Quintero Chavarro (Colombia)
  • Mikhail Yakovlev (Russia)
  • Kento Yamasaki (Japan)
  • Rayan Helal (France)
  • Stefan Bötticher (Germany)
  • Jai Angsuthasawit (Thailand)
  • Hugo Barrette (Canada)
  • Harrie Lavreysen (Netherlands)
  • Nicholas Paul (Trinidad & Tobago)
  • Jeffrey Hoogland (Netherlands)
  • Vasilijus Lendel (Lithuania)
  • Maximilian Levy (Germany)
  • Denis Dmitriev (Russia)

Endurance - Women

  • Maggie Coles-Lyster (Canada)
  • Hanna Tserakh (Belarus)
  • Tania Calvo (Spain)
  • Michelle Andres (Switzerland)
  • Alžbeta Bačíková (Slovakia)
  • Gulnaz Khatuntseva (Russia)
  • Emily Kay (Ireland)
  • Silvia Zanardi (Italy)
  • Karolina Karasiewicz (Poland)
  • Maria Martins (Portugal)
  • Olivija Baleisyte (Lithuania)
  • Eukene Larrarte (Spain)
  • Yumi Kajihara (Japan)
  • Kirsten Wild (Netherlands)
  • Katie Archibald (Great Britain)
  • Anita Yvonne Stenberg (Norway)
  • Annette Edmondson (Australia)
  • Kendall Ryan (USA)

Endurance - Men

  • Tuur Dens (Belgium)
  • Rhys Britton (UK)
  • Roy Eefting (Netherlands)
  • Alan Banaszek (Poland)
  • Jules Hesters (Belgium)
  • Gavin Hoover (USA)
  • Michele Scartezzini (Italy)
  • Kazushige Kuboki (Japan)
  • Claudio Imhof (Switzerland)
  • Aaron Gate (New Zealand)
  • Iuri Leitao (Portugal)
  • Erik Martorell Haga (Spain)
  • Ed Clancy (Great Britain)
  • Sebastian Mora (Spain)
  • Corbin Strong (New Zealand)
  • Yacine Chalel (Algeria)
  • Kelland O’Brien (Australia)
  • Rotem Tene (Israel)
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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. As former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.