Canada was on fire at Saturday’s inaugural round of the new UCI Track Cycling Champions League in Mallorca, Spain, winning two races: the women’s scratch via Maggie Coles-Lyster and the women’s keirin via Kelsey Mitchell. With third in the women’s individual sprint, Mitchell is in second place overall in the sprint classification, only two points behind Emma Hinze. By coming sixth in the elimination, Coles-Lyster is in second place overall in the women’s endurance classification, only three points behind Brit Katie Archibald.
Saturday’s action started with the first round of the men’s sprint, a three-up race instead of the regular two-up. Hugo Barrette was pitted against Olympic Games and world champion Harrie Lavreysen of the Netherlands and Frenchman Tom Derache in Heat 6. Barrette and Derache couldn’t come around the Dutchman. Lavreysen won the competition and Barrette was 17th overall.
Next up was the women’s keirin first round. It would be five laps instead of the regular eight. Lauriane Genest was in Heat 1, won by Germany’s Lea Sophie Friedrich, the world champion, and even though the Canadian was second, she was relegated. Kelsey Mitchell was up against Emma Hinze in Heat 3. Mitchell was first behind the derny and also led out. The Olympic sprint gold medalist hung on for dear life and won the heat.
It was time for Maggie Coles-Lyster in the women’s scratch. The scratch would be compressed to 20 laps. The Canadian attacked early with two others. With five laps to go it was clear that the trio would carry the day. Coles-Lyster was the fastest in the final stretch.
After Coles-Lyster’s triumph, Mitchell took on the women’s keirin final. Mitchell had to come from far back in the final lap. She used the banking to pick up speed and overtake everyone on the outside to win.
Mitchell didn’t have much time to celebrate, as she was soon in the women’s sprint first round. She had Brit Sophie Capewell and Russian Yana Tyshchenko in Heat 3. Genest matched up against Japan’s Riya Ohta and cagey Lithuanian vet Simona Krupeckaite in Round 4. Tyshchenko went from far out, but Mitchell wasn’t having any of it and powered to the win. Genest led going into the bell lap and held off Krupeckaite. Two Canadians were into the semi-finals.
Coles-Lyster’s next task was the race of the dreaded blinking handlebar light, the women’s elimination race. She’d be a marked woman after earning the scratch jersey. The Canadian was cagey in staying safe in the middle of the pack and was into the final eight. But getting caught on the bottom of the pack meant that she was the 10th to be eliminated. Omnium world champion Archibald prevailed.
Barrette was drawn in Heat 3 of the men’s keirin first round with Derache and Nicolas Paul of Trinidad-Tobago, who was kilo silver medalist at Roubaix 2021. Barrette was first in line behind the derny and led after it pulled off. Paul was the fastest with Barrette second.
In the women’s sprint semi-final, Genest drew a duo of competitors that included world sprint champ Emma Hinze. Genest tried to come around the outside, but she couldn’t overtake the German. Mitchell had another German, Friedrich, and Ukrainian Olena Starakova to contend with. Michell started off in a Position 3 crawl. It was between Friedrich and Mitchell and the German was the fastest. Hinze would win the competition, Mitchell was third and Genest fourth.
After 17th in the sprint, Barrette was poised to have his best result in Mallorca in the men’s keirin final. He had a hard row to hoe, with Paul, Lavreysen, and Jeffrey Hoogland to beat. In fact, it would be German Stefan Botticher who was the fastest and Barrette came fifth. Barrette goes into the next round in 10th place overall out of 18 in the sprint classification.
The next four rounds are:
Panevezys, Lithuania – Saturday, November 27
London, UK – Friday, December 3
London, UK – Saturday, December 4
Tel Aviv, Israel – Saturday, December 11