Harrie Lavreysen says he relishes the “special” rivalry he and Matt Richardson have formed at the UCI Track Champions League.
The pair have battled it out in the sprint races over the course of the opening three rounds of the 2022 edition, a rivalry that has defined its second season.
Richardson beat the 2021 champion in the opening sprint race in Mallorca, and once more the following week in Berlin.
“I like it as well,” Lavreysen said. “I like to get to know him really well for the future, that’s one thing, and we can do a lot of races, that’s [another] thing.
“But of course it’s if I win, I hope to win, then it would be better than last year.”
“I didn’t want to focus on it, that I lost two times and now I need to win,” Lavreysen said. “Of course, it’s in my head.
“I felt strong last week, I felt good, just don’t make mistakes and do the best I can.”
Richardson kept the points deficit down to two with a win in the keirin in France, and Lavreysen denied thinking he had done what he needed to do with a win in the sprint race.
“No, no, I wanted to win the keirin as well,” he said. “I think I was in a good position, I just made a mistake outside Jeffery [Hoogland], my team-mate was under me and I hope to keep him there and get together for the finish line, that’s why I was looking so much.
“I thought it was a good tactic for a second, after that I was stupid and I just needed to peddle.
“I think maybe if I just peddled it was a good keirin, but I think with Matthew in my wheel it makes it really hard to win it of course, and I think it’s really special that Matthew and me can finish almost every time one or two in the keirin.
“I think I had more points than I did last year because I didn’t do the keirin that well. So I hope to win it, but I can’t do it all of course.”
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Looking ahead to London this weekend, Lavreysen said he wants to concentrate on his own performance, and not worry about how his rivals might approach the races.
“I’m just going to go for my own races,” he said. “I don’t want to focus too much on it, of course, it’s about the league and it’s about your points, but I just think I need to see before each race and recover quickly, that’s going to be my weekend.”
On whether he has an advantage over Richardson, he replied: “Maybe, but I think this year the races are way quicker, it could be a bit harder, I know a little bit of what to expect but everything is new.
“Different riders, different races, I don’t know, we’ll see.”
Lavreysen added he was looking forward to competing in the first of two events coming up in London.
“It’s the Olympic track, I like the track but I like the crowds here,” he explained. “Having the final here is something special.”
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