TEAM TTO’s top track cyclist Nicholas Paul is expecting to increase his skill-set technically and tactically as the compact rider enters round two of the inaugural International Cycling Union (UCI) Track Champions League in Lithuania tomorrow (Saturday) at the “Cido” Velodrome
Paul finished fourth in the men’s keirin and was eliminated at the semi-final stage of the sprint when round one of the two-hour action-packed programme concluded at the Balearic Islands Velodrome in Palma, Spain two weeks ago.
With those two performances, the men’s flying 200m world record-holder is currently fourth of 18 in the men’s sprint classification on 24 points and trails Dutch world champion Harrie Lavreysen (37 pts), Germany’s Stefan Botticher (33 pts) and the Netherlands’ Jeffrey Hoogland (30 pts) in the six-round competition.
The 2019 Pan American Games men’s sprint champion said preparation in between these rounds has gone well, with some track training and gym sessions under Scotland coach Craig Mc Clean at the World Cycling Centre in Switzerland.
“...so I am all set and ready to go for round two in Lithuania,” the 23-year-old 2019 Pan Am Elite Track Cycling Championship sprint champion told the Daily Express. “I don’t think there is much to sharpen up on but technically and tactically, it is totally different in the Champions League because it is three people in the sprint, as opposed to the normal sprint where it is one versus one, so I think it is more sharpening up technically and I think that is really it.”
Paul is one of the world’s top 72 cyclists (36 male, 36 female) at the six-round season-ending Champions League.
The star-studded line-up includes the best performers from the 2021 Track Cycling World Championships, who have joined a prestigious list of pre-qualified riders.
Paul ended a 30-year medal drought for TTO with his bronze medal effort at the UCI Tissot Track Cycling World Championships in France last month.
But he admitted the League is a different animal.
“I think the Champions League, as for every other race, as a sprinter, I think the more racing repetitions you have, the more experience that you acquire,” Paul reasoned, “So the CL is a big thing for me to develop my tactical awareness and to be able to have more races under my belt.”
Paul, a leading contender for Sportsman of the Year 2021, reckoned that despite the developmental nature of his participation in the CL, when he takes to the track, he has one goal in mind: to win.
“My expectations for round two, I don’t have much expectations but I would love to go out there and win races. I think as a cyclist you always want to win, so my first expectation is to go out and win races and execute my rides perfectly and to just gain experience and enjoy the racing,” Paul concluded.
Paul is looking to finish the year with strong performances after a year in which he placed sixth in the sprint and 12th in the keirin at the Tokyo2020 Olympics and followed up with a triple-gold (men’s sprint, keirin and 1-kilometre time-trial) performance at the UCI Nations Cup event in Cali, Colombia back in September.
After this weekend’s Champions League, the action moves to London (December 3 and 4), and the competition-ending event in Tel Aviv, Israel (December 11).
All rounds will follow the same one-day format to crown overall winners in the sprint and in the endurance categories on both the men’s and women’s side.