Canadian Mathias Guillemette won the playoff race in the first round of the 2022 UCI Track Champions League on Saturday in Mallorca, Spain. Kelsey Mitchell bounced back from being relegated in the first round of the women’s individual sprint to finish second in the keirin. Sarah van Dam and Maggie Coles-Lyster both put in strong performances, taking fourth place in scratch and elimination respectively. Kelsey
This season there are five rounds instead of four, including back-to-back days in London, like in 2021. Along with the number of rounds, there were five Canadians in the league, one more than last year. They were Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Mitchell, world scratch champion Dylan Bibic, Maggie Coles-Lyster, van Dam and Guillemette.
Go go power rangeeeers 💙❤️💛💚
How cool is that? Team Canada came to the UCI Track Champions League with custom painted bikes that look great 😍
And guess what, you can even buy them, check out @CyclingCanadaprofile for more information.
— UCI Track Champions League (@UCITCL) November 11, 2022
The day started with three women’s individual sprint first round. Last season, Mitchell finished third all around in the sprint category, in which there are two races: individual sprint and keirin. Last season she won keirin honors in Mallorca. She was Canada’s only participant in the sprint.
Mitchell was launched with Dutch speedster Hetty van de Wouw and Irish rider Orla Walsh in round 3. Mitchell took position 3 and then raced up the track to grab the front on the final lap. The Canadian had little trouble securing the victory, but it was learned that she was relegated for falling too early into the sprinter lane.
Bibic had the chance to show off his rainbow jersey in the scratch for men, one of the two races in the endurance category, the other being elimination. The Champions League scratch is quite simple: 18 riders – including Guillemette – on the boards for 20 laps, with the winner being the first on the line.
This brief format creates breakaways. It was an escapee, the Briton Mark Stewart, who triumphed. Guillemette placed ninth and Bibic 16th.
How would Coles-Lyster and van Dam fare women scratch? Canadian road champion and critic Coles-Lyster finished just off the podium last season in endurance after a strong start with the best performance in the Mallorca scratch race. She recently finished fourth in the omnium at the World Championships in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. Again, there were 20 laps to go. After a relaxed start, Katie Archibald tried to stir things up by walking away, but her efforts were short-lived. Archibald took the honours, while van Dam was fourth and Coles-Lyster 14th.
Bibic and Guillemette came back up for the elimination of men, the race of the dreaded flashing light. The eighteen endurance riders faced thirty-six laps with a sprint every two laps, the last rider being eliminated. Roy Eefting of the Netherlands was scolded for being the first to go, followed closely by Bibic. Guillemette stayed inside and found himself in the bottom five. And there were two. When the Canadian accelerated in the final sprint, American Gavin Hoover had no response.
Mitchell returned to follow the derny in the keirin women first round. Mitchell was in round 2, which had to be restarted after British rider Emma Finucane pulled out her right crank.
They left without her. Mitchell attacked with two laps to go and won on the gallop.
In the women’s keirin final, Mitchell had fire in his stomach. When the derny broke free, Mitchell started to climb back. She grabbed the steering wheel from Martha Bayona for the entire last lap, but just couldn’t get around the Colombian.
Could the Canadians match Guillemette’s accomplishments in the elimination of women? Everyone gasped when Katie Archibald was the first to receive the boot. A sprint was so tight that the judges decided no one should have the hook. The Canadians held on and qualified for the last nine. There were two Canadians and two Americans in the bottom five, but van Dam and Coles-Lyster were next to go.
The next round will take place next Saturday in Berlin, Germany.