Archibald leads British hopes as unique worlds begin on track

The first edition of the combined UCI Cycling World Championships begins in Glasgow on Thursday with 11 days of high-octane action across virtually every discipline.

For the first time, world governing body the UCI has assembled the world’s elite road, track, BMX and mountain bike riders in one place to compete for around 200 rainbow jerseys.

Appropriately, action begins on Thursday in the Chris Hoy Velodrome in the centre of Glasgow – the track named after Scotland’s most celebrated Olympian.

It will also be a poignant moment for local favourite Katie Archibald, the two-time Olympic gold-medallist whose partner Rab Wardell, a Scottish mountain bike champion, died of cardiac arrest during his sleep a year ago.

“Rab was so involved in this Championships and this dream of a home worlds. He had such a love for sport on two wheels and for Glasgow that’s what this whole event is about,” Archibald, who will be a key component in the women’s team pursuit and also race in omnium and madison, told the BBC.

Archibald, whose first ventures in track cycling were at the Glasgow velodrome, will be part of a British track team looking to flex their muscles ahead of the Paris Olympics.

While still a powerhouse on the boards, Britain’s vice-like hold on track cycling has diminished somewhat in the last few years, but a home worlds offers the chance to lay down a marker.

Britain were only fifth in the medals table at last year’s track world championships in Paris with three golds – the men’s team pursuit, men’s omnium and women’s points race.

The Dutch topped the table with sprinter Harrie Lavreysen winning the keirin and sprint while Italy were also strong, although this time they will not be able to call on powerhouse Filippo Ganna who has skipped the event.

Track world championships ahead of an Olympic Games can be cagey meetings, with the big nations sometimes reluctant to play their hands – although the British team will be airing their cutting-edge Hope-Lotus track bike.

There will be few secrets in the road events with the world championships coming in the middle of a hectic season and fresh in the tracks of the Tour de France and Tour de France Femmes.

Denmark’s Tour winner Jonas Vingegaard will not be competing in Sunday’s men’s road race which will take the riders on a hilly and technical 271km trek from Edinburgh to Glasgow.

But it will be a high-quality field led by defending world champion Remco Evenepoel alongside Belgian team mates Wout van Aert and Jasper Philipsen. Slovenia’s two-time Tour winner Tadej Pogacar, former world champion Mads Pedersen and Dutch star Mathieu van der Poel are also taking part.

Tour de France Femmes winner Demi Vollering will be among the favourites for the women’s road race that concludes the championships on Aug. 13, although she will have formidable opposition in the form of Annemiek van Vleuten, Lotte Kopecky and Britain’s Lizzie Deignan.

Britain will have high hopes in the BMX racing events with Olympic champion Beth Shriever favourite for gold in the racing category and Charlotte Worthington in the freestyle event she won in sensational fashion in Tokyo.

Britain’s Tom Pidcock will also be the rider to beat in the cross-country event as he swaps his Ineos Grenadiers road bike for his cross country machine, hoping to repeat his stunning solo ride to gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

Other events at the world championships include indoor cycling and a full para road and track programme.

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