Matthew Richardson stuns world champion at opening round of UCI Track Champions League


Matthew Richardson has stunned the track cycling world at the opening round of the 2022 UCI Track Champions League season in Mallorca, Spain over the weekend, toppling perennial sprint world champion Harrie Lavreysen in the men’s sprint league.

Richardson used up every inch of Lavreysen’s back wheel in the one-up match sprint final’s deciding lap, powering around the Dutchman in the final metres to cause a huge upset.

The win is another notch in the belt for the 23-year-old Western Australian, who continues to up the ante on an already outstanding 2022 season by becoming the first sprinter to defeat Lavreysen in a long time.

“We raced each other at worlds, and I raced him in Glasgow (UCI Track Nations Cup), and I just tried something different (tonight) that I hadn’t tried earlier in the year and it paid off in the end,” Richardson told Eurosport and GCN post-race.

“I thought ‘if I go too early, I’m going to explode’, so I thought I’d leave it late and then see what happened, and it worked out great.

“Harrie and I have raced each other all season and he’s beaten me every time, so it was nice to get one over him.”

The Australian Cycling Team star’s ability to accelerate at near-on top speed is fast becoming a trademark feature of his racing, and it was on full display once again at Velodrom Illes Balears.

“I kind of surprise myself sometimes with that, I feel like the gear is big and I’ve got it too slow and then a bit of seated power or out of the saddle and it kind of gets going really well,” Richardson said.

“Sometimes I get caught out but tonight it worked out for me.”

The Commonwealth Games gold medallist’s win was the talk of the pundits in Spain, with track cycling legend Sir Chris Hoy acknowledging Richardson has now well and truly arrived at the top of the sport.

“He’s the real deal, we’ve seen it coming for over a year now and we thought it was going to be closer at the World Championships but he’s clearly got the eye of the tiger at the moment,” Hoy said.

Matthew Richardson celebrates his sprint win at Round 1 of the 2022 UCI Track Champions League in Mallorca. Picture: UCI Track Champions League/SWPix

“You can just see how determined he was all night and finally the great Harrie Lavreysen was beaten in a match sprint.

“He’s not the kind of guy that is going to lie down and just take it.

“He doesn’t make excuses, he shook Matt’s hand but you’ll see he’s going to come back next week all guns blazing.”

All guns blazing is exactly what Richardson will expect to come back at him this coming weekend at Round 2 in Berlin.

“I obviously strive to be one of the greats in the sport,” Richardson said.

“I think to be the best you need to beat the best and obviously Harrie has shown that for the last few years and it’s great to have people like that in the sport to compete against and really drive the sport on so everyone gets better.

“I feel like I’m in a fortunate position where I’m there chasing him.”

Earlier in the night Richardson finished third in the keirin and sits second in the men’s sprint league standings by two points after Round 1 behind Lavreysen.

Australian Cycling Team teammate Thomas Cornish enjoyed a positive night of racing by making the keirin final and finished the night on 10 points and 12th in the standings.

Chloe Moran was also in the action in the women’s endurance league, finishing the night with nine points to find herself sitting 14th in the standings heading into Berlin.

You can watch a full replay of UCI TCL Round 1 via SBS On Demand.

Pictures: UCI Track Champions League/SWPix
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