The roar of the embrocation, the smell of the crowd: there's nothing like track racing for up-close, high speed action.
With the Beijing Olympics just around the corner, track giants Britain, France and Australia know it’s now time to set down markers or forget dreaming about gold medal success in China this August. While Australia set a blistering pace on the Athens Olympic velodrome in 2004, in the past two years they have been playing catch-up to the new track pace-setters Great Britain.
Photographer Stephen McMahon was in the infield at the Manchester Velodrome on Wednesday night for the first day of the 2008 World Track Cycling Championships.
If you want to read more on the winners and losers in Manchester, head to the related links on the right hand side of this page.
Here are some of the best pictures from Wednesday night...
Carlos Eduardo Alzate Escobar (Colombia) gets up to steam in qualification for the pursuit
David O'Loughlin (Ireland) finished a very credible sixth overall in the men's individual pursuit
Hayden Roulston (New Zealand) was unlucky not to make the podium
Alexi Markov (Russia) took a well deserved bronze medal in the men's individual pursuit
The battle for gold in the pursuit was contested by Jenning Huizenga from the Netherlands...
...and defending world champion Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain)
Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain), 2008 world individual pursuit champion
The poise, balance, strength and agility displayed by the acrobats was admirable
Lisandra Guerra Rodriguez, winner of the women's 500m time trial title
The newly crowned world champion wiped away her tears of joy and began to celebrate
The men's scratch race was fast, furious and made for first rate sporting entertainment
Aliaksandr Lisouski (Belarus) gave the crowd a thrilling display to take the men's scratch title
The French team on the men's team sprint podium
The energy and excitement of the World Track Cycling Championships was just too much for some
This gentleman's musical tribute to the competition was an interesting addition
A young fan cheers on proceedings beside the memorial to British track cycling legend Reg Harris
From bronze to carbon: as you might expect, there was some extraordinary equipment on display