LONDON: Dutch sprint king Harrie Lavreysen and Australian Matthew Richardson served up an appetizer for next year’s likely battle for Olympic glory as they faced off on the final night of the Champions League on Saturday UCI track.
Lavreysen, an Olympic champion and five-time individual sprint champion, was almost unbeatable in the discipline but suffered a rare defeat as Richardson edged him out in the final at a packed London velodrome – with Lavreysen showing his frustration at the line.
The 26-year-old, however, responded to win a thrilling keirin final after Britain’s Richardson launched a bold early attack but was unable to hold off an onslaught Lavreysen.
Richardson, 24, will make his Olympic debut next year and appears to be the biggest threat to Lavreysen’s dominance, although the Dutchman is clearly up for a fight.
“I think it’s an important thing,” Lavreysen said of his growing rivalry with Richardson after winning the overall sprint title following the five rounds of the Champions League in which he won seven of the ten sprint and keirin events.
“I think it’s a good thing for the sport. It keeps me fresh because I really need to be focused and every time I see him on the track I know I have to do as much as possible. efforts.
“He tried to convince me during the keirin final. We’re at the Olympics next year and that’s not going to happen.”
While Lavreysen regained the overall men’s sprint title he won at the inaugural Track Champions League in 2021, Britain’s Katie Archibald also reclaimed the women’s endurance title.
Shed was overshadowed by teammate Neah Evans in the 20-lap scratch race and was disappointed not to take five wins out of five in the heat race where she finished third.
But her consistency throughout the events in Mallorca, Berlin, Paris and London has made her a worthy champion and will allow her to approach an Olympic year full of confidence.
“It’s a shame not to win the final races because it’s the night my sister came to watch, but I’m really happy to win the overall title again,” said the two-time Olympic champion.
Canada’s Dylan Bibic did enough on the final night to win the men’s endurance title while New Zealand’s Ellesse Andrews capped off her women’s sprint title in style, winning the sprint and keirin in impressive fashion.
Each title winner receives a cash prize of 25,000 euros ($26,702.50) each.
($1 = 0.9362 euros)