UCI Track Champions League officially launches to change the face of track cycling internationally
Broadcast audio visual extravaganza planned by Eurosport Events
The UCI Track Champions League has officially launched, bringing a new chapter in the history of track cycling set to elevate the sport to a new level of global prestige. As part of the broadcast plan for UCI Track Champions League, Eurosport Events has concocted an audio visual feast for the eyes of fans both in velodromes, as well as at home.
Featuring the world’s highest profile riders, the series includes a unique, condensed international race calendar, gender-equal participation and prize fund, and worldwide broadcast schedule.
The UCI Track Champions League will benefit from an extensive global broadcast distribution strategy with the aim of reaching and engaging as many cycling fans as possible. The race’s six rounds will be extensively broadcast across Discovery-owned channels including Eurosport, linear TV and streaming plus GCN+ and the GCN Racing digital channels.
As part of the League’s ambition to reach a wider audience for the sport and attract new fans, distribution partnerships with top tier broadcasters have also been agreed. Further details on broadcast partners will be announced in the coming weeks.
Fran֧֦cois Ribeiro, head of Eurosport Events, commented on how the broadcast will capture the excitement of this new form of track cycling to fans with an extravaganza of sound, light and data: “Eurosport Events is going to deploy and bring 50 tonnes of equipment to each velodrome [in the UCI series]; we are talking about 280 metres of LED screen, 3D mapping on the track, we are going to bring sound systems, we are going to bring our own light system; so I think the level of technology, the level on on-event , in-venue experience will be, well, nobody has done it at that scale before. Not the Olympics, not the World Championships. We will really be experiencing something outstanding.”
“We will do the first test event in July, just at the back of the Tour de France, and it will also be the first time that you will see live data,” continued Ribeiro. “We will get sensors on the bikes and on the riders to get that data and bring that data live on the LED screens, on the 3D mapping, on the app, on your Connected Watch or whatever supports your TV graphics, to show how extreme track cycling is, to show the intensity of the efforts that the riders are making. This is something that has never been done before in track cycling and we’re setting probably a new precedent in the sport to improve the on-event experience and the on-screen experience.”
The elite fan-focused competition, designed to build the global profile of track cycling beyond the four year Olympic cycle, will debut on 6 November with the first of six action packed international events. It will bring a fresh new approach to the track cycling format rooted in driving accessibility and excitement amongst existing and new fans alike.
The launch comes as part of a new eight year partnership between cycling’s world governing body the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), and Discovery, alongside its dedicated event promotion business Eurosport Events, with the objective to develop a year-round narrative for track cycling and further grow engagement around the sport.
Ribeiro commented: “Today marks a major milestone in our commitment to cycling. We believe the track discipline is one of the most exciting forms of cycle sport, but as the demands of audiences have evolved, there is an opportunity to present this in a new and highly compelling way. We’ve tapped into our unrivalled expertise in another high-adrenalin form of racing – motorsport – to refine the format and deliver an unprecedented on-event and on-screen experience to cycling fans.
“The UCI and Discovery announced the launch of the new UCI Track Cycling Champions League in March 2020. By deepening its long-term relationship with the UCI, Discovery is harnessing its global scale, extensive media platforms and promotion expertise to help grow cycling. The management, TV production and distribution of the new UCI series will be entrusted to GCN, in collaboration with Eurosport Events,” concluded Ribeiro.
UCI president, David Lappartient, Eurosport and Discovery global sports rights and sports marketing solutions president, Andrew Georgiou, and Ribeiro, revealed all aspects of the high adrenalin, short format racing series optimised for mainstream TV viewers. They were joined by ambassadors Kristina Vogel and Sir Chris Hoy MBE.
A condensed, six-round race schedule designed to give track cycling a clear space in the wider cycling calendar, visibility beyond the World Championships, and maximum fan engagement was also announced. Round 1 takes place on 6 November in Palma, Mallorca, at Velòdrom Illes Balears. The 5,200-capacity multisport venue opened in 2007 and hosted the 2007 UCI Track Cycling World Championships.
Round 2 takes place on 20 November at St Quentin en Yvelines, France, at the Vélodrome National de Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. Round 3 on 27 November in Panevėžys, Lithuania at the Cido Arena. Round 4 and 5 will be held in London on 3 to 4 December at Lee Valley VeloPark. Round 6 on 11 December will be held in Tel Aviv, Israel, and the Sylvan Adams National Velodrome.
The UCI Track Champions League is a league format where every round will feature the same race programme. Riders score points across the six rounds in either the Sprint or Endurance category. Each category has two different types of races in which competitors can accumulate points: Sprinters will race both the Sprint and Keirin while Endurance riders will race both the Elimination and Scratch. Altogether, 18 riders will compete in each category, totalling 72 riders — equal numbers male and female — to take part in the inaugural UCI Track Champions League.
Lappartient said: “The launch of the UCI Track Champions League marks an important milestone in the history of track cycling, one of cycling’s historic disciplines and one that has been part of the Olympic Games since the first modern Games in 1896. Thanks to our strategic partnership with Discovery, a dynamic, fast-paced, television-friendly circuit will reach a new audience of track cycling fans. The discipline now has a compact annual calendar, based on the three highlights of the UCI Nations Cup, the UCI Track World Championships and the UCI Track Champions League. Track Cycling, which has been a resounding success at the Olympic Games, is thus equipped to shine annually during each Olympiad.
“I am very much looking forward to seeing this inaugural edition of the UCI Track Champions League take place in these iconic venues revealed today, and to seeing the first four men’s and women’s winners of the 2021 UCI Track Champions League, celebrated in December in Tel Aviv, Israel,” he continued.
Georgiou said: “We are privileged to work with such visionary leaders in the UCI and it is hugely exciting to see the UCI Track Champions League come to life. We can’t wait for cycling fans to experience the first round this November, beginning a new chapter for track cycling and using Discovery’s scale and platforms to bring audiences to the sport from all around the world.
“As the Home of Cycling and Home of the Olympics, Discovery is uniquely placed to build a distinctive year-round narrative for track cycling and tell the sport’s story in a sustained way between and during each Olympic Summer Games. Combining the best of sport and entertainment, featuring the world’s best track riders and teams within this dynamic new format, will set an outstanding stage for the sport.”