With riders like Rigoberto Uran or Nairo Quintana, runners-up of the last Giro d’Italia and Tour de France respectively, Colombia has claimed its place back among the great nations of world cycling.
The country in which the sport has become a religion is hosting the UCI Track Cycling World Championships for the second time after the 1995 edition in Bogota – that year Colombia also hosted the road worlds. Will the track, located at an altitude of 1,000 metres, be the stage of new world records as was the case in the World Cup leg of Aguascalientes (Mexico), which saw seven world marks bettered?
One year after the competition held in Minsk, the South-American edition could in any case see Britain make history. British Cycling won five titles in Belarus – men’s keirin and points race, women’s keirin, team pursuit and sprint – and the Britons could become the most prolific nation on track in Cali. With 50 gold medals since the start of the Open era in 1993, Britain has an ideal opportunity to close the gap on France, which won 57 rainbow jerseys over the same period. The British women will be the arch-favourites to bag the first World Championships four-a-side team pursuit in history. They have repeatedly improved the specialty’s mark to take it to 4:16.552 in the last round of the 2013-2014 UCI Track Cycling World Cup. Australia’s Anna Meares will be another contender to watch after becoming the first woman to ride under 33 seconds on the half-kilometre (32.836 in Aguascalientes). She could level the record of France’s Felicia Ballanger with ten world titles on track. The World Cup saw Germany’s Kristina Vogel and Miriam Welte eclipse their rivals in the team sprint and Vogel will be the woman to beat in the individual sprint and keirin. The Germans will be looking for a clean sweep in the sprint events.
Men: Pervis with ambitions
World record holder for the kilometre in 56.303, Francois Pervis will be at the top of his game in Colombia. He recently wrote on his Twitter account: “One day my father told me it was impossible to go under the minute on the kilometre at sea-level. I just proved him wrong.” The solid Frenchman will defend his crown in the kilometre but will also take part in the sprint and keirin. And he could become the star of Cali. But he will face strong opposition in the sprints from a super strong German team, who could sweep medals with the likes of sprint defending champion Stefan Boetticher but also Maximilian Levy or Robert Forstermann. In the longer events, the Australians have the means to retain both their individual and team pursuit titles.
Events are broadcast live on www.youtube.com/ucichannel