It can get dizzy just standing in the middle of the track cycle track and Harry Lavreysen followed with the eyes. The 25-year-old Dutchman zooms down the slopes at breakneck speed while his teammates slow down further up the slope. Here it turns Dutch national track cycling team their rounds, and the whole thing is reminiscent of funnel-shaped donation containers in which coins can be spun. For two weeks, the Dutch have in Velodrome Illes Balears – formerly Palma Arena – trained. He had the training camp Cycle tour operator Fred Rompelberg organized. The athletes stayed at the Hotel Playa Golf on Playa de Palma.
“For us, it’s pre-season. With the Nations Cup in Glasgow, the first big race of the year starts on April 20,” says René Wolff. The 44-year-old from Erfurt is the head coach of the Dutch federation and leads the nearly 20-strong travel group. Wolff used to be a professional himself and got the Olympic Games 2004 in Athens with the German team gold and individually bronze. A year later he became world champion.
Coach of the New Zealand national team
After retiring in 2007, the Thuringian moved to the neighboring country in 2010. First he was active as a coach, later briefly as a Director for competitive sports at the Dutch Olympic Association. In 2017 he dared a new adventure on the other side of the world and signed on as coach of the New Zealand national team. “The state invests heavily in sport there. You don’t expect it, but for its standards it has New Zealand a good track cycling team.“
Wolff prepared the athletes for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, where New Zealand won a silver medal in the discipline of keirin, the so-called combat sprint. “We’ve met expectations.” Last December, Wolff returned back to Europe. “It was mainly due to the working conditions there because of the pandemic. As a foreigner in New Zealand you are only allowed to as Report Eater Resident buy a house. We have tried to register for years without success. So I could only sign short-term rental contracts with my wife and two children, where we were sometimes thrown out from one week to the next,” complains the German.
Cristiano Ronaldo of track cycling
In February, Wolff once again took command of Dutch track cycling. In terms of sport, it’s a step up. The German neighbors are among the World leaders in cycling. Only the British have also won twelve medals in Tokyo. First and foremost there is Lavreysen, who climbed the highest podium both with the team and in the individual sprint in Japan. “You can use him as the Cristiano Ronaldo of track cycling designate,” says Wolff.
Especially since he’s a Ronaldo at a young age. The 25-year-old still has a lot planned. “I always want to win and I still have a few good years ahead of me,” says the otherwise rather taciturn athlete. Lavreysen has won almost everything since he started his career in 2015. Be it at Nations Cup, the World Cup or the Olympic Games. Or the new one Champions Leaguewhich the world cycling association UCI introduced last year to promote track cycling.
Practically an amateur sport outside of the Olympics
One of the three races – five were planned, but Corona prevented two – took place in Palma. “One Analysis of the International Olympic Committee has shown that our sport is doing surprisingly well during the games in terms of TV coverage, viewership and response. What is surprising, therefore, is why we are practically outside of Olympia like an amateur sport be noticed,” says Wolff.
There have already been initiatives to make track cycling, which used to be so popular, more popular again. In 2017 and 2018 Palma hosted the finals of the Six Day Series. But this spectacle was not well received by the audience. “An attempt was made to revitalize a successful concept from the 1930s to the 1960s. That didn `t work. The Champions League reflects the zeitgeist better‘ says Wolff.
Transmission via Eurosport and the Global Cycling Network, a kind of Netflix for cyclists, also plays a role. The drivers think so too. “The Champions League is fun and more attractive for the spectators because it is played in one evening and only consists of final races,” says Lavreysen. For the Champions League race on November 12, 2022, he wants to do dizzying laps again in the Velodrome Illes Balears.