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Cycling-Israel round of Track Champions League cancelled, London prepares for finale

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FILE PHOTO: UCI Track Cycling World Championships

LONDON (Reuters) - The UCI Track Champions League will culminate in this weekend's double-header in London after the final round scheduled for Israel on Dec. 11 was cancelled because of the new Omnicron coronavirus variant.

It is the second round of the new competition to be cancelled, after a Paris leg was also scrapped for COVID-19 related reasons.

London will host two sold-out rounds with one later on Friday followed by Saturday's finale.

Israel has imposed tight restrictions on movement into the country in response to fears about the new variant.

"It is with regret that we have been left with no choice but to remove Tel Aviv from this year's calendar," Francois Ribeiro, head of Discovery Sport Events which is partnering the UCI in the Champions League, said in a statement.

"We were ready to celebrate our four series winners at the Sylvan Adams National Velodrome but the events of the pandemic have taught us the importance of adapting when necessary."

The Track Champions League features 72 of the best male and female riders competing in sprint and endurance competitions. Points and prize money are accumulated from each race, with overall winners of each of the four divisions earning 25,000 euros ($28,200).

Ahead of London, Olympic champion Harrie Lavreysen leads the men's sprint table after dominating the rounds in Mallorca and Lithuania, while Germany's Emma Hinze leads the women's sprint standings. Britain's double Olympic champion Katie Archibald leads the women's endurance division with Spain's Sebastian Mora top of the men's endurance table.

Despite the cancellations, British track cycling great Chris Hoy said the new condensed made-for-TV, fan-friendly format has been a big success. "I think it has started incredibly well and will keep gathering momentum as the rounds go by," Hoy said.

"The racing has been fierce and the riders appear to be revelling in this new, non-stop condensed action format."

($1 = 0.8862 euros)

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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