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 team pursuit is now on the Olympic programme, other teams have started to take it seriously, as have we," she said.
"And we, as a team, have been doing a lot more training for team pursuit than ever before and that will help us to go faster as a unit. I think that can only mean that the times will eventually be faster. So whilst there hasn't been a great fall in the times since our first world championship in 2008 - I think we won that in 3.22 - the times are definitely becoming faster and faster, and I think that's in keeping with the fact that the event is now on the Olympic programme and everyone's taking it seriously."
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