Corbin Strong started the new UCI Track Champions League in the best possible way with wins in both endurance events on the opening night in Mallorca.
Strong, recent world championship medallist Aaron Gate and sprinter Jordan Castle were the New Zealand riders selected among the 36 men and 36 women over sprint and endurance for the five-round league.
The new league incorporates sprint and keirin under revised formats, with a short 20-lap scratch race and the exciting elimination for endurance riders in the two-hour format, with the upcoming legs in Lithuania on November 27, two nights in London on December 3 and 4 and the final event in Tel Aviv on December 11.
Strong bided his time in the scratch race, moving up into position with four laps remaining as compatriot Gate pushed the pace. Strong had the best sprint to come over the leaders on the final bend for the win.
He was also in excellent position near the front of the field throughout a frantic elimination race, where Gate had to dodge a number of elimination sprints, having won this event in the omnium at the recent world championships.
Gate ran out of legs with six riders remaining but Strong was the dominant rider, and had too much kick in the sprints to claim the overall honours.
“I was worried about the endurance of some of the riders like Aaron to go long in the scratch race but with the shorter distance I made sure I was in position for the sprint. Thankfully I had a good lead-out. I am pretty proud of that effort to be honest,” said Strong.
“I went in with a relaxed attitude. Even the biggest races, I like to go in relaxed. The environment with the lights and the crowds really suits me – it is an awesome experience.
“It is an awesome spectacle and even to be in the race. To get the win is very special and hopefully I can carry on the form for the rest of the series.”
Strong leads the overall endurance classification on 40 points from Portugal’s Iuri Leitao on 30, USA’s Gavin Hooper on 27 and compatriot Gate on 20.