Insists building towards London 2012 is biggest priority
Given the team's huge medal haul in recent years, observers were a little surprised at Great Britain's performance on day one of the track world championships. While big rival Australia took gold medals in the points race (with Cameron Meyer) and the women's 500 metre TT (Anna Meares), the highlights for the GB team were Wendy Houvenaghel's silver medal in the individual pursuit and bronze in the team sprint with Jason Kenny, Chris Hoy and Ross Edgar.
It was the first time in six years that the British riders did not reach the final round in the team sprint. Performance director Dave Brailsford might have been expected to be slightly disappointed, but he said that the opposite was the case.
"I'm very happy," he insisted to Cyclingnews. "Our real concern were the Olympic events, and obviously the only Olympic event tonight was the team sprint. We had been particularly worried about Jamie [Staff] and losing our man one to injury. So one of the most important things today was Jason Kenny in that position. Not only did he step up and deliver, he did phenomenally well with a time of 17.2. I'm very happy about that."
The team dominated the track worlds in 2008 and then the Olympic Games later that year. That inevitably increased expectations and while 2009 saw the squad back off slightly in a post-Games reaction, many anticipated that the team would pick things up again here in Copenhagen.
When asked where Britain's best medal chances would lie in the days ahead, Brailsford refused to be drawn on making predictions. The priority, he insisted, was on building towards London 2012.
"From our point of view, we are still really looking at things like man one in team sprint, how we are going to move that forward. That is the sort of level we are focusing on," he said. "We are not particularly concerned about a medal tally. To be honest, are we concerned about the points, are we concerned about individual pursuit women, are we concerned about individual pursuit men? Well, it's great for the athletes, but as a programme we are looking at London. 17.2 for Jason Kenny? That's a fantastic ride.
"If you take the men's team pursuit, you've got Andy Tennant who has never ridden in the senior worlds. You've got Ben [Swift], who is likewise. We will be in the mix, but I think at this moment in time our primary concern is more about getting them into the groove.
"So I am going to bed a happy man tonight, I can tell you that. Two months ago, we were looking down a barrel when Jamie Staff's back went. I was thinking, 'right, that medal is going away from us.' But now I would say that there is a big turn around, and I am very happy."
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