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Board talk: A preview of the Olympic track events

By:
Susan Westemeyer
Published:
August 15, 2008, 0:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 19:32 BST
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, August 15, 2008
Great Britain's track team hits the Laoshan Velodrome.

Great Britain's track team hits the Laoshan Velodrome.

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With the road events done and dusted, attention turns now to the Laoshan Velodrome for the 10 track...

With the road events done and dusted, attention turns now to the Laoshan Velodrome for the 10 track events. Procycling's Ellis Bacon and Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo tell you who to look out for – and they're not all Brits...

With seven men's track events and three women's events here at the Olympics, just how many will be taken by the all-powerful Brits? The British track team dominated proceedings at the last world championships on home turf in Manchester in March, and are hoping to do the same in Beijing. Look out, though, for those Aussies, Dutchies and Frenchies...

Men's team sprint

We begin proceedings on Friday afternoon with the team sprint. A team of three rides three laps, losing a man off the front each lap. The opposing team does the same, starting on the opposite side of the track. The British and French have a rivalry as fierce as that between the USA and French men's swim relay, and it will take a Jason Lezak-style final lap for the Brits to overpower the reigning world champions.

Grégory Baugé, Mickaël Bourgain, Kévin Sireau and Arnaud Tournant are four of the fastest men in the world, and have shown that they can win in any combination. Bourgain will concede the anchor leg to the more experienced Tournant in hopes that France can redeem itself after a major disappointment in Athens where they failed to make the gold medal final, but will be present as an alternate for the final should any one of the three falter.

The competition for the three places on the British team was fierce. Former BMX racer Jamie Staff will kick things off, with either young Jason Kenny or Ross Edgar taking the front for the second lap before ol' tree-trunk-neck himself, Chris Hoy, is let off the leash for the final lap. Edgar, Hoy and Staff have had plenty of time to perfect their laps since taking silver in the worlds. But they'll all have to keep an eye out for the Dutch squad with superstar Theo Bos, who were just five hundredths off in Manchester.

Men's and women's individual pursuit

Again, it's current world champ and Britain's track golden boy, Bradley Wiggins, who should be top of the pile in this, the blue riband track event. Nothing's guaranteed, though, over the 4,000m distance, with the riders starting on opposite sides of the track. The show's over either when the distance is completed or when one rider catches the other, which doesn't happen too often at this level.

Speaking of levels, watch out, too, for the USA's Taylor Phinney. Son of former road professionals Connie Carpenter and Davis Phinney, the just 18 year-old might surprise a few people. Australia, too, come to Beijing with a strong presence in Brad McGee and Luke Roberts. Britain's Mark Cavendish, despite the rumours, will not ride.

In the women's event, held over 3,000m, Karin Thürig of Switzerland, who took the road time trial bronze on Wednesday, will be hoping to upgrade her medal colour, but former world champ Sarah Hammer of the USA will have something to say about that. As will Britain's Rebecca Romero, the reigning world champion, who has taken to track cycling like a duck to water having changed disciplines from rowing, where she won silver at the Athens Olympics four years ago. Oh, and she plays the violin and piano, too

Continue to the full preview of the Beijing track events.

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