Aussie Richardson outpaces cycling great

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Australian track cycling sprint star Matt Richardson dreams of being an all-time great - and he's taken another step on his ambitious path by earning his first major victory over the fastest man on two wheels.

Double Olympic champion Harrie Lavreysen has been untouchable in sprint championships in recent years but Richardson caused a sensation at the opening round of the new UCI Track Champions League in Mallorca by outpacing the Dutch master.

Last month in the Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines Velodrome just outside Paris where the 2024 Olympics will be staged, Lavreysen proved too good for the man from Perth in the world championship final as Richardson had to settle for silver after a 2-0 schooling.

Lavreysen's performance had British great Sir Chris Hoy hailing one of the sport's modern greats as "virtually unbeatable", but the ever-improving Commonwealth champ Richardson felt he'd got close enough to believe that wasn't the case.

And in Mallorca's Velòdrom Illes Balears on Sunday in his Champions League debut, the 23-year-old, who has the power to go for an extended sprint, switched tactics, hitting full gas as late as possible on the last lap of the match sprint.

It worked perfectly as he blasted past 11-time world champion Lavreysen on the outside off the last bend, hitting speeds of over 70kph to win by 0.059sec after a 10.282 seconds burst over the last 200m.

"Harrie and I have raced each other all season and he's beaten me every time, so it was nice to get one over him," Richardson told Eurosport.

"I thought 'if I go too early, I'm going to explode', so I thought I'd leave it late and then see what happened, and it worked out great.

"We raced each other at the worlds, and I raced him in Glasgow at the UCI Track Nations Cup, and I just tried something different that I hadn't tried earlier in the year - and it paid off in the end."

"I obviously strive to be one of the greats in the sport. I think to be the best, you need to beat the best and obviously Harrie has shown that for the last few years."

It's just the latest breakthrough in a terrific 2022 campaign for the British-born former junior gymnastics star who switched to cycling after an elbow injury and learned race at the Midland Cycling club where Giro d'Italia champ Jai Hindley also cut his teeth.

After also finishing third in the keirin behind Lavreysen in Mallorca, Richardson is two points behind in the sprint standings in the new five-meeting international series which moves on to Berlin on Sunday.


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