Hong Kong cycling fans urged to support Track World Cup
Biggest cycling event to be held in city could be dealt attendance blow as dates clash with Hong Kong Marathon
Hong Kong cycling chiefs are hoping fans turn up in force for the UCI Track World Cup this month, the biggest track cycling event to be held in the city.
Big names such as Tour de France star Mark Cavendish and local favourite Sarah Lee Wai-sze will be among those competing at the Hong Kong Velodrome in the third and final leg of the World Cup.
Cavendish is taking part in the omnium – cycling’s ‘decathlon’ – in preparation for the Rio Olympics, while London Games bronze medallist Lee will be hoping for a confidence-boosting performance after a disappointing display in the last leg in New Zealand. She took bronze in the sprint in the first leg in Colombia.
The event is also one of the last where qualification points for Rio will be at stake, ahead of the Asian Track Championships in Japan at the end of the month and the World Championships in London in March.
But the finals on January 17 clash with this month’s other major sporting event in Hong Kong, the Standard Chartered Marathon, possibly a blow to ticket sales.
Organisers said they had sold 1,000 tickets so far and said they did not see the clash with the marathon as an issue.
"We are actually very glad to be part of such an eventful day for Hong Kong sports," said Hong Kong Cycling Association chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak. "It certainly helps arouse the interest among the public.
"Also, the Hong Kong Marathon ends in the morning on Sunday, while the World Cup is a whole day event.
Leung added that breaking even or making a profit was not their primary concern.
"As an event organizer, of course we want to break even, but more importantly, we would like to deliver a world class cycling event to Hong Kong citizens, and promote cycling as a sports in Hong Kong, this is what we are focusing on," he added.
In a statement released by organisers, Leung said the event, “being the final leg of the series ... [is] a true opportunity of a lifetime for Hong Kong.
“The World Cup is one of the most important events on the world track cycling calendar ... With the 2016 Rio Olympics approaching, riders will definitely give their best to obtain Olympic qualification. The public is more than welcome to come and cheer for the Hong Kong Team.”
Leung told the SCMP last month that he hoped a big response from local fans could lead to more major events at the HK$600 million velodrome, such as the world championships.
Around 300 elite cyclists from 38 countries will compete for four UCI Class 1 events and 10 World Cup events at the 16-17 January event.