T&T cyclist Nicholas Paul faces a bumper end to the 2021 calendar year as he has qualified for the inaugural edition of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Track Champions League, part of a wider reform of the UCI's track cycling calendar of events.
Taking place over the course of five Saturdays from the beginning of November into early December, with stops in four European cities, the UCI Track Champions League will immediately follow the 2021 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Roubaix France from October 20-24. The latter has been shifted from its previous spot of between February and April in the UCI calendar also as part of the new UCI calendar.
Paul, the number one ranked sprint rider in the world according to the UCI's rankings as at September 14 and a world record-holder in the men's Flying 200m, leads the list of cyclists who have earned an automatic spot at the UCI Track Champions League by virtue of their world ranking.
Other riders will qualify to the Champions League through their performance at the World Championships, while more will be chosen from each host country and invited to participate.
After concluding his World Championships campaign in France, Paul is expected to put his wheel on the line for the first leg of the Champions League in Mallorca, Spain on November 6. The event then moves to Panevezys, Lithuania on November 27, two events in London on December 3 and 4 and then the final event in Tel Aviv, Israel on December 11.
According to an article appearing on the event's official website, ucitrackchampionsleague.com, one stop scheduled to take place in Paris, France on November 20 had to be postponed.
The article stated, "Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines will now join the UCI Track Champions League from 2022, and no longer host the second round of the inaugural league on November 20, 2021. Following recent guidance from the French government, the velodrome just outside Paris will continue to be used as an essential community vaccination centre until the end of the year and is therefore unable to fulfil its role as a host venue. Due to the limited time remaining to deliver a premium event in an alternative location, the cancelled round will not be replaced in the 2021 race calendar."
The Track Champions League has been conceptualised in order to generate greater fan engagement for the sport, riders will compete in the six rounds for positions on the league table and to determine who is the world's best. Cyclists compete in individual sprint (match sprint and keirin) and individual endurance (elimination and scratch) events only.
A prize pot of €500,000 will be shared equally, with the overall winner of each category receiving €25,000. The action will unfold across a fast-paced two-hour race programme scheduled in primetime Saturday evening across consecutive weekends.