By Peter Ramone
After a huge medal haul in the 2008 Track World Championships and Olympic Games, the British trackies did not live up to the world's expectations in last weekend's championships in Pruszkow, Poland. Word on the street is that the team did not live up to the expectations of British Cycling's performance director, Dave Brailsford, either, and he has taken an especially hard line with the squad's male riders.
Brailsford had set the team a target of 10 medals in the championships, but the Great Britain could only come up with nine medals, only two of them gold. Seven of the medals were won by the women, including both world titles. The men could only manage a bronze in the points race and silver in the team sprint.
In response, Brailsford gathered the men together at the end of the championships and made a blunt announcement – all those riders who had failed to come up with a medal would be making a two-wheeled return to Britain from Poland.
After missing out on medals in both the scratch and Madison, Mr. Milan-Sanremo, Mark Cavendish found himself involved in a frantic dash from Saturday night, Sunday and Monday riding from Warsaw across half of Poland, the breadth of Germany and Holland, plus half of Belgium to reach the start of the Three Days of De Panne on Tuesday morning.
Despite receiving help from the men's team pursuiters, it is little wonder that he trailed in more than 13 minutes down on stage-winner Filippo Pozzato on Tuesday.