Back On Track: did the first episode of the new Track Champions' League documentary deliver?

The five-part documentary series takes a deep dive into the stories behind the new UCI competition

Track Champions League 2021
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Inspired by F1's Drive To Survive, it seems every sport wants its own docuseries these days. The latest of these is track cycling's 'Back On Track', the first episode of which was released on Monday (April 4) on Eurosport and GCN+. 

The five-part series is an inside take on the UCI's Track Champions' League, which was held at the end of last year around Europe, and focuses on the human stories and personal relationships behind the results boards.

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With camera crews granted access to the riders not only in the track centre but also in their own homes, the series promises much and on the strength of the first episode, it mostly delivers the goods. Homing in on the TCL's first round in Majorca, we follow the various races and meet the various rivals, including Dutch sprint pairing Harrie Lavreysen and Jeffrey Hoogland. They talk about the challenges of being rivals on the same team, with Lavreysen recounting his pathway to track stardom via scrapbook pictures of him racing BMX.

Elsewhere in the show, Canadian sprinter Kelsey Mitchell talks about her rapid rise to stardom, from non-cyclist to Olympic gold medallist in the space of a few years. And we meet the women's endurance protagonists, who each profile their rivals and talk about the challenges they face between them.

These are the human stories, though a lot of it is background rather than the in-competition needling which has made Drive To Survive so popular. But as the did not series set out to manufacture rivalries or exaggerate events, said François Ribeiro, head of Discovery Sports Events.

Unlike an F1 race, which lasts for up to two hours and features teams and drivers in constant communication, a track race can be over in minutes and seconds and riders don't say much during that time. Capturing those intimate, in-race moments was always going to be a challenge, but Back On Track looks set to be an enjoyable recap of the TCL that brings its characters to the fore.

Back On Track episode two is released Monday 11 April on Eurosport and GCN+.

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After cutting his teeth on local and national newspapers, James began at Cycling Weekly as a sub-editor in 2000 when the current office was literally all fields. 


Eventually becoming chief sub-editor, in 2016 he switched to the job of full-time writer, and covers news, racing and features.


A lifelong cyclist and cycling fan, James's racing days (and most of his fitness) are now in the past, although that doesn't stop him banging on tirelessly about "that one time" he nearly rode a 20-minute '10', and planning the big comeback that everyone knows will never actually happen.