The 2019-2020 UCI Track Cycling World Cup is almost upon us and this year it’s infused with added flavour as it’s part of the qualifying campaign for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The series comprises six rounds, beginning in Minsk, Belarus, on 1st November. Here’s the full rundown…
Minsk, Belarus, 1-3 November 2019
Glasgow, Great Britain, 8-10 November
Hong Kong, China, 29 November-1 December
Cambridge, New Zealand, 6-8 December
Brisbane, Australia, 13-15 December
Milton, Canada, 24-26 January 2020
This will be the last year of the series in its current format. From 2020-2021, the number of rounds will drop from six to three to ensure that the world’s best are always battling against each other. It’ll also be held from April to September, will be renamed the UCI Track Cycling Nations’ Cup and is for national teams only. Of course, there’s a lot of racing between now and then with memories galore to be made. By whom? Time will tell but we suggest you keep an eye on these riders...
Christos Volikakis will line up in Minsk as world number one after topping the Omnium rankings in 2018-2019. The Greek is arguably their greatest ever track cyclist – certainly of recent times – with numerous world, European and national titles to his name. The 31-year-old will head to Belarus in strong form; he likes the track, winning the Scratch and points races at July’s European Games on it. This week Volikakis celebrated a silver medal in the UEC European Championships Scratch race behind Sebastián Mora of Spain in Apeldoorn, Netherlands.
The Netherlands’ Kirsten Carlijn Wild may have just turned 37 but she shows no sign of slowing down. Like Volikakis, Wild topped the most recent Omnium rankings. She carried that World Cup form over to Poland and the UCI World Championships, picking up gold in the Omnium and Madison, plus silver in the Scratch and bronze in the points race. Not content with dominating the track, the 2019 season also saw Wild enjoy her 14th professional season on the road with standout victories including Three Days of Panne and a classics triumph at Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields. Wild has had more success in the last week at the UEC European Track Championships with gold medals in both the Omnium and the Elimination Race.
Joachim Eilers of Germany is the man to beat in the 1km time trial after topping last season’s rankings. The 29-year-old has an impressive palmares including two world golds (1km time trial and keirin) at London 2016 and three European golds. But he’d trade it all in for a strong 2019-2020 World Cup season and gold in Tokyo. If his dreams come true, Eilers will end his unlucky medal drought at the Olympics. In Rio, he finished fourth, fifth and fifth in the sprint, keirin and team sprint, respectively.
The Ukraine’s Olena Starikova (23) enjoyed her breakthrough season in 2018-2019, finishing first overall in the Sprint. Impressive – and even more impressive when you factor in she held off Hong Kong’s Lee Wai Sze (32), who won an incredible four rounds. It’ll be interesting to see how the battle between the youngster and experienced campaigner pans out this season.
Australia’s Matthew Glaetzer will be the sprinter to beat in the men’s race. The 27-year-old won the first three sprint events of the 2018-2019 season in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (FRA), Milton (CAN) and Berlin (GER). He then took silver in London behind The Netherlands’ Harrie Lavreysen. Glaetzer didn’t race the final two rounds in Cambridge (NZL) and Hong Kong (CHN) but still led the rankings ahead of Poland’s Mateusz Rudyk.
Where does the 2018 Sprint UCI World Champion and 14-time National Champion’s immense power output come from? He gave track fans an insight thanks to an interview with his local Adelaide paper, revealing: “All the training’s in the gym or on the track. We do two to four gym sessions a week… it’s all the big gross movements – squats, deadlifts, Olympic lifts and the leg press. I can do 330kg for three reps on one leg.” Incredible.
Also look out for Martina Fidanza. The Italian topped the Scratch race rankings after winning the final two rounds, despite being only 19 years old. Although it’s perhaps not unexpected. Fidanza comes from a distinguished cycling family. Her father, Giovanni, won stages of the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia as well as the Giro’s Points jersey in 1989. He also manages Martina’s road team, Eurotarget-Bianchi-Vittoria, for whom Martina’s elder sister, Arianna, also competes. Martina will be looking to repeat her World Cup form and qualify for her first Olympics.
Whether these track cyclists or their contemporaries ride their way into UCI Track Cycling World Cup history remains to be seen. But you can be sure every rider will be seeking their peak in this important year.