The 2014-2015 UCI Track Cycling World Cup gets underway in Guadalajara, Mexico, this weekend. The South American city, perched at 1561 metres in the west of Mexico, officially launches the first of the two pre-Olympic seasons. The World Cup will then continue in London, Great Britain (December 5-7) and Cali, Colombia (January 17 and 18), theatre of the 2014 UCI Track Cycling World Championships.

For the strong track cycling nations, this season’s opener is significant: “This World Cup is really important for us,” explains Kevin Tabotta, National Performance Director of Cycling Australia. “It is the next, very important, step towards next year’s World Championships in France, and for Rio 2016.” He is confident going into the weekend’s competition: “We have started the season very strongly with a number of strong performances and encouraging results.”

The Australian contingent includes Glen O’Shea, a member of the victorious four-strong pursuit team at the last UCI Track Cycling World Championships, as well as Daniel Fitter, Juniors World Champion in the team pursuit in South Korea this summer, who makes his début in the Elite ranks.

Australia’s women’s team will be able to count on Anna Meares, eight times UCI Track Cycling World Champion and double Olympic Champion. Meares will have to face up to tough competition in the form of Germany’s Kristina Vogel, reigning World Champion in the individual sprint, team sprint and keirin.

After an incredible 2013-2014 season, the Great Britain’s women’s pursuit team will be the ones to beat in Guadalajara. Three of its members, Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker and Laura Trott remain the same, while Ciara Horne replaces Joanna Roswell.

In the absence of World Champion François Pervis, it could well be another French rider, Greg Baugé who dominates the men’s sprint. Baugé recently won his first European title and appears to be in good shape to rival the world’s best.

Meanwhile the public will be impatient to see their local star, Sofia Arreola, in action. The Mexican was world silver medallist in the points race and the scratch in 2013 in Minsk, Belarus.

Follow the competition live on www.youtube.com/ucichannel.