Revolution Champions League London 2016

Image: ©Matt Grayson

This year’s Revolution Series came to a spectacular climax at last Saturday night’s London round. Photographer Matt Grayson was there for Conquista: see a fabulous gallery of his images below.

We devoted 46 pages of Conquista issue 11 to some of the exciting recent developments in global track cycling. The World Cycling League is attempting to bring to the velodrome some of the gloss and glamour of the NFL, MBA and MLB. Six Day London has enjoyed spectacular success at the Lee Valley velodrome and this week is testing the wider appeal of its modernised take on six-day racing at the Six Day Amsterdam. Events in Berlin, Copenhagen and Mallorca will follow in a new Six Day Series.

And then there is the UK’s Revolution series. Founded in 2003, Revolution is significantly older and better-established that either WCL or the Six Day Series. It has also had a key role to play in the recent spectacular development of both British cycling and British Cycling. In our interview for issue 11, James Pope, CEO of Revolution series creators and owners Face Partnership, explained:

“Revolution was born at a meeting between us, Dave Brailsford, who was then head of British Cycling, and John Walsh, who ran the National Cycling Centre in Manchester. In those days track cycling was in a poor state, with very few participants and no spectators. At the meeting we were presented with a two-part challenge: firstly, we had to provide competitive events for British Cycling’s track cyclists, and secondly, we had to put bums on velodrome seats”.

There is no doubt that Revolution continues to fulfil the first part of its “mission statement”. In 2016 the series has teamed up with Velon, a joint venture between eleven men’s UCI WorldTour teams, to develop a new two-part structure. In the first three rounds only domestic teams compete. The best of them qualify to take on teams from the WorldTour over two meetings in the “Champions League”.

In the end even the mighty WorldTour was no match for the domestic teams. Both rounds of the Champions League were dominated by JLT Condor, represented by Jon Mould and Olympic star Ed Clancy. Team PedalSure and the Maloja Pushbikers took second and third, and Team Wiggins was fourth. Best of the WorldTour teams was Cannondale-Drapac in fifth. (The other WorldTour teams represented were Trek-Segafredo, Giant-Alpecin, Team Sky, LottoNL-Jumbo, Orica-BikeExchange and Lampre-Merida.)

The women’s omnium was won by Neah Evans of Podium Ambition, who successfully held off the challenge of the incomparable Laura Kenny (though to us she’ll always be simply Trotty).

So Revolution is pretty clearly giving leading and upcoming British cyclists ample opportunity to compete alongside some of the best riders in the world. 

But what about the second challenge – bums on velodrome seats? True, the Saturday nights at the Manchester and London Champions League rounds were sold out. But at other rounds it seems there were rather more seats than bums. Certainly, there was no shortage of tickets on sale for Friday evening and Saturday afternoon sessions immediately before both Manchester rounds, and London too. TV coverage suggested Glasgow was particularly sparsely attended. And of course the much-vaunted Paris round was cancelled altogether, with Revolution blaming “planning issues” (though not before prices had been cut in half).

Perhaps this longer format means there is more than enough supply to meet UK demand for track cycling. Or perhaps potential customers were put off early “qualifying” rounds because, with the WorldTour teams missing, they thought they weren’t getting first-rate action – which would be ironic given the UK teams’ ultimate dominance.

Whatever the reason, we hope these are just bumps in the road to ever greater success for the Revolution series. It’s no secret that we love track cycling and admire Team GB’s Olympic achievements, and we recognise the huge contribution Revolution has made to the sport in this country. Long may it last.

To read more about the present and future of global track cycling, see our major feature “Inside Track” in Conquista issue 11. 

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