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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, February 19, 2012

Date published:
February 19, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • British women raring to go ahead of Track World Cup

    The GB women's team get some valuable track time
    Article published:
    February 15, 2012, 15:25 GMT
    Cycling News

    Olympics start this weekend according to Houvenaghel

    With this weekend's UCI Track World Cup also doubling up as the Olympic test event, tension and excitement levels are high in equal measure amongst the athletes that are set to appear. And nowhere is that excitement being felt more than in the Women's Team GB camp as the final preparations are made.

    While this weekend's event is prestigious enough in its own right, the British athletes can be forgiven for having one eye on this summer's London 2012 Olympics.

    "Being in 2012 now, and having the Olympic test event in the next few days, it really does feel like we are starting this Olympic process for real," said Wendy Houvenaghel, won silver in the individual pursuit at Beijing four years ago.

    "I think we will go into this competition fully prepared and we will ride to the best of our ability and produce a very good performance. Whether that means the win or not is really not something that we're too concerned about at the moment, as we are focusing on a win in August. This is definitely the strongest four that I've ever ridden with, and it bodes very well for the Games."

    With the women's team pursuit now added to the Olympic schedule, Houvenaghel will be hopeful of going one better than she did individually in Beijing, and adding an Olympic team pursuit gold medal to the three world championship golds she has won in that discipline. The 37-year-old sees this summer's Games as her last realistic chance of winning a gold. She admits that competition will be fierce both this weekend and at the Games for real, but feels that Team GB are well prepared and ready to go faster than they ever have before in their quest for glory.

    "I think that because...

  • Swift misses out as 'The Ashes' loom

    Ben Swift (GB) finished 6th in the pursuit round of the men's Omnium
    Article published:
    February 16, 2012, 7:12 GMT
    Richard Moore

    Was versatility the catalyst for World Cup omission

    There were always going to be three disappointed members of the British team pursuit squad for this weekend's UCI World Cup in London.

    Step forward Ben Swift, Andy Tennant and Sam Harrison.

    In the line-up that has been selected, the experienced Ed Clancy and Geraint Thomas will be joined by Steven Burke and Peter Kennaugh in what is set to be one of the most entertaining of contests, with the qualifying round in the opening session, on Thursday evening, and the final on Sunday.

    "It's the Ashes, isn't it," said Shane Sutton, the GB performance manager, of the team pursuit. That's a reference to the prestige of the event as well as an expected showdown with Australia, the reigning world champions. But Sutton corrected himself:

    "That's how people look at it, but I see the team pursuit as just one medal. We've got to be careful as a team that we don't just live and die by that one result we get in the TP."

    With Tennant and Harrison missing out altogether on a ride in the World Cup, Swift will at least have the opportunity to race in the omnium. But, as he sat with his fellow team pursuiters and looked ahead to that, it didn't seem like much consolation.

    "I tried to get in to the team pursuit here but it didn't quite work out," said Swift. "I was quite disappointed. It was always going to be hard to get selected for the team but it does give you extra motivation to get selected for the worlds. I will give it a go."

    Sutton admitted that Swift had perplexed the selectors, who, he said, picked the team on the basis of the "numbers" they had produced in training, in particular during a couple of trials last week. "We saw a couple of things that we felt...

  • UCI scores own goal with Kenny presentation

    Grégory Baugé defeated Jason Kenny in two races.
    Article published:
    February 17, 2012, 6:00 GMT
    Richard Moore

    Junior world championship jersey better than none?

    The UCI appeared to score a spectacular own goal as the London UCI Track World Cup got underway in the new Olympic velodrome.

    Shortly before the first event -- qualifying for the women's team pursuit -- a presentation was held. In it, Jason Kenny was crowned world sprint champion after Frenchman Grégory Baugé was recently stripped of the title and handed a backdated ban for doping irregularities.

    Kenny is British, the opening session was a sell out, and yet, while 6,000 people streamed into the stands, the presentation was not made on the podium in the track centre. Instead, a "ceremony" was held in private.

    Well, that's not strictly true. Brian Cookson, the British Cycling president, handed a bemused Kenny his rainbow jersey in the media room, in front of a small audience of journalists.

    Kenny was even more bemused to realise that the jersey said "Junior" on the shoulder. It was a junior world champion's jersey. To Cookson's embarrassment, it was all there was.

    "It's a bit bizarre," said Kenny. "It's odd it says 'Junior' on it as well. It's a strange situation, but it's nice to have it now, and it will be good to race in it on Sunday. That will be special, especially in front of a home crowd, and hopefully I'll be at the thick end of the sprint."

    Kenny will also be in action on Friday, lining up with Ross Edgar and Sir Chris Hoy in the team sprint. Edgar is relatively untried as a starter,...

  • Australian duo set world record at London Olympic test event

    Australian duo Anna Meares (back) and Kaarle McCulloch are pictured at the start of the team sprint
    Article published:
    February 17, 2012, 13:33 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Meares and McCulloch set record in women's team sprint

    Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch of Australia set a new world record in the women's team sprint with a time of 32.828, in qualifying on Friday. It marked the first world record set at the new Olympic Velodrome in London.

    The Australian’s closest rivals from Great Britain set a new British record of 32.966, and qualified in second place. The two nations will ride off in the gold/silver race later this evening, while China will race France for the bronze medal.

    Meares and McCulloch set a time of 18.510 for their first lap, with Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish posting a time of 18.855.

    "This is the best possible outcome we could be having: an Australia-British final. This is the closest thing to what will happen in the Olympic Games, racing them in the final. So tonight, win or lose, we will get a lot out of this," said Meares.

    The Olympic test event doubles up as the final round of the UCI World Cup.

  • Boardman questions Great Britain's team sprint line-up

    Brailsford and Chris Boardman take the media through some technical principles.
    Article published:
    February 17, 2012, 18:49 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Olympic champion on Kenny's role

    Should Jason Kenny be denied a shot at the Olympic sprint? That was the question asked to former Olympic champion Chris Boardman, who argued that if Kenny focussed on only the team sprint Great Britain would stand a better chance of winning gold in the event at Olympic Games.

    Kenny is currently vying with Sir Chris Hoy for the only Olympic spot in the individual sprint but Boardman believes that with Great Britain struggling to fill their man one slot in the team sprint the team would be better served if Kenny slotted into the lead position, with Matt Crampton and Hoy comprising the final two slots.

    In Friday’s qualifying rounds at the UCI Track World Cup in London, Great Britain came home in fourth, behind Germany, France and Australia. Ross Edgar led the team off with Kenny and Hoy making up the rest of the team.

    “We don’t have a man one and in four years we’ve not been able to find a replacement for Jamie Staff," said Boardman. "That’s no slight on Ross Edgar, it’s just a fact of speed, and other people are faster. Ross is as good here as he’s ever been but that’s just his level as man one. So the only choice they have is to go with Jason Kenny as man one and then Matt Crampton as man three.

    “The problem is the sprint event because while there’s two of them vying for the one Olympic spot then Jason Kenny will not take the approach that Jamie Staff had, which was 'my job is one lap of the track and nothing else'. Kenny has a foot in both camps and that’s not ideal.

    “It’s a real tough decision for the management," continued Boardman. "If it was taken away from him and he did focus on that one job they could benefit from that, but that’s not the call I’d want to make. Jason has done 17.2 and a lot of it is about...

  • Pendleton and Varnish set world record in women's team sprint

    Pendleton will be taking a career break after London 2012
    Article published:
    February 17, 2012, 19:18 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Great Britain set second set world record in women's pursuit - update

    In a thrilling women’s team sprint final Great Britain came from behind to beat world champions Australia and set a new world record in the process, clocking a time of 32.754.

    The Australian duo of Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch had set a new world record of 32.828 earlier in the day at the London Olympic velodrome and went into the final as favourites. They led the race throughout until Britain’s Victoria Pendleton stormed back with a final lap time of 13.962 to secure the gold medal.

    "It is unbelievable when the crowd roars. I was shaking on my bike," said Pendleton.

    "I didn't think we were going to go faster in the final but we did. We're a fairly new team. We tried something different in the final and it worked out."

    In the ride for bronze France lost out to China.

    Pursuit record falls

    Great Britain secured a second gold medal and another world record in the women's team pursuit, beating Canada with a time of 3.18.148. Australia had set a world record in the ride for bronze just a few minutes beforehand, beating The Netherlands.

    Great Britain had shuffled their line up after the qualifying round, bringing in Danielle King for Wendy Houvenaghel. The move paid off with King, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell setting the fastest time at each kilometre. There was a brief fightback from the Canadian team but they tired in the second half, despite also breaking the previous world record, to finish with a time of 3.18.982.

    "The crowd are so amazing and really get behind you it's difficult to rein it in," said Rowsell.

    "We tried to go out a little bit steadier and really back up the ride, back up that last kilo, bring it home. I think we did that, we delivered and broke the world record."



  • Shane Sutton: Great Britain on the hunt

    Jess Varnish and Victoria Pendleton celebrate their team sprint win and world record
    Article published:
    February 18, 2012, 14:54 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Momentum key as Olympics beckon

    The rest of the world should watch out. According to British Cycling head coach Shane Sutton, Great Britain is on the hunt as it moves ever closer to the London Olympic Games in August. Sutton was speaking at the end of day two at the London velodrome after four world records were shattered in a thrilling day of racing.

    The British pair of Jessica Varnish and Victoria Pendleton set the ball rolling for the home team, beating world champions and previous world record holders Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch in the team sprint. The women’s pursuit team followed suit, dispatching of Canada in their final, and breaking the world record in the process.

    The men’s team sprint failed to reach the final in their event but held on for a bronze in their ride.

    “There were a lot of standout performances. You look at individual laps, records across the board, there have been great performances,” Sutton told Cyclingnews.

    “We’re hunting other nations now. We know what it’s like because we’ve been at the top of the game and used to be hunted by the others. We’re hunting them down now. Lets be honest with you, a lot of these teams have runs on the board but I think we’re doing well and we’re coming.”

    Germany, Australia, France and New Zealand are among the number of nations who have improved their track pedigree since the Beijing Games four years ago but like the Olympic Park, the Great Britain team is still a work in progress.

    “We couldn’t ask for anymore,” said Sutton as he watched Ben Swift compete in the final omnium event of the evening.

    “We came here with the attitude of seeing where we were at and not...

  • Geraint Thomas could quit the track after London 2012 Olympics

    Geraint Thomas talks to the press
    Article published:
    February 19, 2012, 10:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    Welsh rider says he may focus solely on the road

    Geraint Thomas, who is part of the Team GB squad contesting the Track World Cup in London this weekend, has revealed that the time could be right for him to retire from the track and focus on the road after the London 2012 Olympics this summer. 25-year-old Thomas, who rides for Team Sky, claimed that the evolution of track cycling makes it extremely difficult to excel in both disciplines.

    “This Olympics could be the end of my time on the track,” he told “Four years is a long time in sport and for a year or so after London I will be totally on the road.

    “I will probably ride the Tour of Spain two weeks after the Olympic final, so it will be straight back to the day job. You should never say never, but track cycling is so specific now. It’s pretty impossible to combine the two over a long period.”

    In the meantime Thomas is preparing to face Great Britain's arch rivals Australia in the final of the team pursuit as the weekend closes out this evening. He had nothing but praise for the atmosphere at the Velodrome over the last couple of days and says that the event, which is acting as a test for the Olympics, has been a roaring success - literally.

    “I really love this track, it reminds me of riding back home in Newport – the feel is exactly the same,” he said. "The crowd support we are getting is pretty amazing. I don’t think anyone expected it. It was so loud for the qualifying, so you can only imagine what it will be like for the final. This is only a test event for us, but having an indication of just how loud and crazy...