“It was definitely hard, but I expected it to be harder.”
Matthew Richardson is not being boastful or cocky or arrogant when he says he found the first round of the Track Champions League a bit less demanding than he had anticipated.
The debutant is making no assumptions about the four nights of racing still to come, however. “It might get harder as we go, I don’t know…” he said.
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On the eve of the second round in Berlin, the young Australian has every reason to believe that he belongs there.
As the only rider to beat Harrie Lavreysen in 15 sprints at this competition - three races a night at every round across last year and this, maths fans - he would also now be perfectly justified in seeing himself as a true contender for the overall title.
No chickens are being counted yet, though.

'I tried something different and it paid off' - Richardson on beating Lavreysen

“I think you have to take it race by race,” Richardson said. “Consistency is going to be the winner in the long game.”
It’s a dream come true for him to be going up against and beating the Olympic gold medallist and four-time world champion.

Lavreysen 'really happy with this win' after keirin triumph in Mallorca

“Harrie is someone I’ve looked up to for the last few years,” said Richardson.
“He’s just been on top of the game. He’s been absolutely crushing it and changing the sport of sprint cycling. It’s awesome to be up there alongside him.”
While there are sixteen other world class sprinters in the competition, it already looks like the overall title is going to come down to those two. The smart money is certainly on a repeat of last weekend’s sprint final. In Mallorca Richardson glued himself to Lavreysen’s wheel for the first two laps before emerging from the Dutch rider’s slipstream and overtaking him just before the line.
“We’ve still got three-ups to get through before we can meet each other in the final again, but I’d love nothing more than to meet him again in the final in Berlin," says Richardson.

Watch the thrilling men's sprint final as Richardson stuns Lavreysen in upset

That victory in Mallorca was a tactical triumph as well as a physiological one, he said:
“I’ve raced Harrie a little bit this season, so I kind of knew what to try. At worlds I tried to get it going quite fast, and it didn’t work out for me, so this time I thought I’d leave it a bit slower. I had pretty cooked legs from the evening’s events, so that was the plan, and it worked out for me.”
Despite the impressive nature of that victory, and now knowing Lavreysen is beatable, there’s no danger of Richardson growing complacent.
“I think Harrie’s never going to want to lose, so I think the mindset probably won’t be that different. We all want to win every race, so he’s going to be on the line wanting to win, like every other time.”
For the 2021 Track Champions League Richardson, who was on the other side of the world, set his alarm each night so he could get up to watch the best track cyclists in the world compete.
“It took my breath away watching it last year,” he said.

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He agrees that the spectator experience may have helped to elevate his expectations of the physical demands of the competition.
“I’ve definitely experienced worse,” he said of the post-race sensations.
He thinks the rhythm of the racing contributed to the way his body reacted as well.
“The first keirin wasn’t too hard,” he said. “The final was and then my first round of sprint was pretty easy. So I managed to have a round to recover, which helped. If they were all as hard as the keirin final, for example, it would have been a different story.”
Were there any moments, Eurosport asks, where he found himself overwhelmed by the occasion?
Richardson says there wasn’t.
“The graphics that go on, the projections on the track were awesome to see. It was cool to experience it in person, but you’re just in race mode. You try and take it in but you’re just thinking about winning the next race and progressing.”
For tomorrow his plan is simple, to remain “process focussed and hopefully get the job done.”
Ultimately, he said: “We’re here to win. We train to win.”
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