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WCL track league wants to make track racing cool again

A new American racing league wants to put the spectacle back into track racing. The World Cycling League (WCL) will debut on March 18 in Los Angeles, where six franchise teams will compete in three sessions spread across two days, each containing 12 high-speed events ranging from two to 40 laps.

The concept is similar to Europe’s popular six-day races, intended to be as much a show as a sporting event, and harkens back to the early 20th century heyday of American track, when races at Madison Square Garden in New York made track racing the most popular sport in the U.S.

“We’ve taken the most exciting velodrome cycling events and engaged world-class track cyclists to create a fast-moving program full of color, excitement and displays power and endurance,” said David Chauner, CEO of WCL and principal developer of the concept. “We’ve added lights, music, combined men’s and women’s teams and real-time scoring for added fan and television appeal.”

The League will be hosted at the VELOSports Center in Carson, California, just outside L.A.

Six teams will contest the inaugural year. The California Wave, Colorado Cyclones, Pennsylvania Lightning, and Connecticut Nor’Easters will be joined by two international teams, the Dublin Thunder and Mexico Heat.

The launch event will use a format called TeamTrak, which pits six teams of seven riders each (four men and three women) against each other on Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and again Saturday evening.

Riders score points in each of the 12 events per session, and team standings will be posted on the arena scoreboard in real time. WCL will use onboard cameras and transponders to download real-time data from riders, including cadence, power, and heart rate.

Marty Nothstein, the United State’s last Olympic sprint medalist, will be competition director for the first event in March. “Track cycling is in need of a fresh new approach,” he said. “WCL’s commitment to build an exciting and innovative league structure is exactly what the sport needs.”

The WCL will begin at the VELOSports center, but plans to expand internationally.

Tickets for the first event can be purchased at WorldCyclingLeague.com.