Everything you need to know about track world championships this week

Just months after racing for gold in Japan, some of the world's fastest track cyclists head to Roubaix for the 2021 track cycling world championships.

Photo: Maja Hitij/Getty Images

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Track world championships in October?

Yep, welcome to the new-look world of track racing. 

For decades, track racing was long a winter pursuit, something that kept the wheels spinning in the sport during the dormant months when road racing is in its off-season slumber.

That changes this week in what’s a major overall of track cycling.

The UCI and Eurosport are also rolling out a new, five-round series of track cycling events that will run from November into December as part of a new push to add some spice to track cycling.

Also read: UCI moves to reshape track cycling

Here’s what’s on tap for the 2021 UCI Track Cycling World Championships:

Where: Jean-Stablinski velodrome, Roubaix, France

When: October 20-24

What’s in play: Rainbow jerseys will be awarded in 22 events (two more than in Berlin 2020)

The events: Scratch race; individual and team sprints; individual and team pursuits; Keirin; points race; omnium; time trial; Madison and the elimination race.

What’s new: The elimination race will be a world title event for the first time, and the women’s team sprint will be raced with three riders per team instead of two, meaning the men and women will battle for the same number of medals.

Who’s racing: Among the field are 18 riders who won gold medals on the Izu boards at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Harrie Lavreysen, the only rider to claim two gold medals in the velodrome of Tokyo 2020, will race, along with U.S. gold medalist Jennifer Valente. She will race the Omnium, the scratch race and the points race (she took silver in both events in Berlin 2020), and is a substitute in the Madison.

Why Roubaix? The worlds were originally scheduled for Turkmenistan, but officials said complications due to COVID-19 forced the UCI to change venues for the event.

The last worlds: These worlds are the first since the 2020 worlds in Berlin in February, just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down racing across the globe. 

Why move to October? The UCI juggled its worlds schedule as part of a larger reshaping of track cycling. There still will be World Cup competition, and the worlds will remain scheduled before the Olympic Games in Olympic cycle years, but the track worlds will now be featured in October going forward. 

A new series: The UCI, working with Eurosport, will debut its new UCI Track Champions League in November and December. The five-leg series will feature a mix of sprint and endurance races in a TV-friendly format that will be broadcast live in what backers hope will be a way to revive interest in track cycling.

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