All eyes on Poland

With the countdown to the TISSOT UCI Track World Cup in Manchester well underway all eyes will be on Poland this weekend as the season kicks into gear.

The first round of the World Cup begins in Pruszkow on Friday with riders and nations hoping to get the global track season off to a good start.

With five rounds in total this year, World Cups are a prime opportunity to score qualifying points for March’s World Championships, to be held in the Netherlands.

Great Britain have sent a limited squad to Poland, with just Chris Latham selected from the senior men’s endurance programme.

Katie Archibald is also given a rest after her recent exertions, but the team still boasts three Olympic medallists who will be hoping for success before heading back to Manchester the following weekend.

Away from the Brits Kristina Vogel is the standout name competing in both Poland and Mancheseter, with the nine-time world champion having just added a further two European titles to her medal haul.

Fellow world champions Jolien D’Hoore and Lotte Kopecky will also travel from Poland to Manchester, with the Madison experts hoping to continue where they left off in April.

Former road world champion Amalie Dideriksen will be Denmark’s only female representative in the two World Cups, but she will be joined by Casper von Folsach and Niklas Larsen, Olympic bronze medallists in the team pursuit, who come off the back of a fifth-place finish overall at Six Day London last week.

Fellow Six Day riders Kenny de Ketele and Moreno de Pauw – third in London – will ride for Belgium in both Poland and Manchester, as will new European elimination race champion Gerben Thijssen.

And the Six Day connection does not end there, with world Madison champions Benjamin Thomas and Morgan Kneisky also switching to World Cup action – with the Frenchmen being joined by two-time European champion sprinter Sebastien Vigier, who will hope to continue his flying form from Berlin last month.

Competing against Vigier will be Germany’s Maximilian Levy, another new European champion and another to have competed at Six Day London last week.

As did New Zealand’s Eddie Dawkins and Ethan Mitchell, with the three-time world team sprint champions preparing to line up in both Poland and Manchester.

Lastly, Poland’s world scratch race champion Adrian Teklinski will be hoping to shine in front of a home crowd, with fellow wearers of the rainbow bands Rachele Barbieri, Azizulhasni Awang and Daria Shmeleva also in action.