All of the leaders heading into the final round of the UCI Track Champions League 2023 successfully held on to their light blue skinsuits to take the trophies in London after five rounds of highly competitive track racing across Europe.
Harrie Lavreysen stormed to his second sprint title in the men’s category while it was an overall win in the women’s sprint category for New Zealand’s Ellesse Andrews in her debut season with 173 points. Great Britain stalwart Katie Archibald earned 160 points to secure the women’s endurance title after narrowly missing out last year, and Canadian rider Dylan Bibic’s 131 points earned him the men’s endurance victory.
It was additionally a glorious night for Great Britain on home soil as race wins from Mark Stewart and Neah Evans complemented Archibald’s overall endurance celebrations.
Dutch powerhouse Lavreysen took his second overall UCI Track Champions League sprint victory after another season of fierce competition with defending champion Matthew Richardson.
The two enjoyed another two thrilling rounds of competition on the final weekend. Richardson took the spoils in the sprint category against his Dutch rival, but Lavreysen had the last word has he won the penultimate race of the day in the Keirin. Despite having wrapped up the overall title with his qualification for the sprint final, Lavreysen and Richardson fought until the very end in the Keirin.
With a lap and a half to go the race was truly on between the two, but it was Lavreysen who soared to victory in the leaders’ skinsuit. After losing out to Richardson last season, Lavreysen broke the points-scoring record to leave London with 191 points, 29 points ahead of Richardson, and the UCI Track Champions League trophy for a second time.
New Zealand’s Andrews took the women’s sprint category in her debut season which she fought out against fellow debutant Alessa-Catriona Pröpster. The German rider was knocked out of the sprint semi-final by Colombia’s Martha Bayona who progressed to face Andrews in the final.
After she beat fierce competition of Daniela Gaxiola and Lijuan Wang on her way to the sprint final, Andrews took the spoils once more against Bayona to boost her points tally leading into the Keirin heats. Andrews won the third heat to qualify for the Keirin final, which was enough to seal the overall victory. The world champion stormed to victory in the Keirin as she beat Bayona on the line to complete an impressive first season in the competition.
Archibald’s endurance win the women’s endurance category was sealed with her third-place finish in the elimination race. After narrowly losing out on the title to the USA’s Jennifer Valente last season, Archibald lifted the trophy in front of a home crowd with a total of 160 points, 15 more than second-placed Anita Yvonne Stenberg.
Great Britain team-mate Evans enjoyed a clear victory in the scratch race ahead of Ireland’s Lara Gillespie, but the women’s endurance leader earned herself an important 11 points with her fourth-place finish. The elimination race followed and Archibald had to finish within the top 10 to wrap up her title.
She stayed in contention for the race win until there were three riders remaining before she was beaten by Gillespie and Stenberg in the penultimate sprint lap. Gillespie went on to take the win against the Norwegian. Despite it being only the third time ever across the three seasons of TCL history that Archibald hasn’t won an elimination race, the result was more than enough to secure the all-important victory.
Canada’s Bibic took the spoils in the men’s endurance category at Lee Valley. Bibic was 16 points ahead of second-placed Will Tidball going into the scratch race, so it was imperative that he bolstered his lead if he hoped to top the standings by the end of the night.
Great Britain’s Stewart won the scratch race in front of an elated crowd while fellow British rider Will Perrett took second place. Bibic’s sixth-place finish, ahead of Tidball, was enough to ensure he was still ahead leading into the elimination race.
After the race was restarted and then neutralised due to a mechanical issue followed by a crash from Sebastian Mora, Bibic’s final chance to secure the title got underway. All that was needed from him was a finish within the top 15, and he did just that. He stayed in the race before leaving in 11th place to give him a 14-point win overall.
Belgium’s Tuur Dens and Jules Hesters were the final riders remaining on the track and it was Dens who won the sprint between the two to win the final men’s endurance race.
As the curtain closes on another spellbinding UCI Track Champions League eyes turn to Paris in the New Year for the 2024 Olympic Games. Having already raced in the velodrome that will be used for the Games in this year’s TCL circuit, many will be fancying their chances and eyeing up gold next summer.
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