The 2013 UCI Track World Championships in Minsk, Belarus signaled the start of the next four-year Olympiad cycle with Great Britain once again showing its strength on the boards. The track powerhouse earned the most medals over the five days of racing: nine in total from the men's and women's teams, including five world titles. Germany and Australia each earned eight medals with Germany taking three gold, three silver and two bronze while Australia won two gold, two silver and four bronze medals.
Performance director Dave Brailsford, in an interview with British Cycling prior to Worlds, described the Minsk world championships as "the first step toward Rio 2016" and additionally stated that the line-up in Minsk will display "a changing of the guard within the team".
Leading the way for Great Britain was 21-year-old Rebecca James who became the nation's first rider to win four medals at single world championship. James became a double world champion, winning both the keirin and individual sprint, plus earned bronze in both the 500m time trial and team sprint, where she partnered with 19-year-old Victoria Williamson.
"I was in so much pain, but I just pushed and pushed and I finished. And I finished in the front," said James after winning keirin gold on Sunday to close out her world championships, equaling her sprint and keirin double world championship earned in the junior ranks in 2009. James also became the first British woman since Victoria Pendleton in 2007 to win both elite-level individual sprint and keirin world titles at a single championship.
Two additional medals were earned by British women including gold in the team pursuit with Elinor Barker, Dani King and Laura Trott as well as silver in the omnium for Trott, the 2012 Olympic omnium champion.
Each of the five women Great Britain sent to track Worlds earned at least one medal, and with ages ranging from 18 (Barker) to 22 (King), the future looks bright in the long view to the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Great Britain's men's team accounted for three medals in Minsk: two golds and one silver. Jason Kenny, gold medalist in the individual and team sprint at the 2012 London Games and the 2011 individual sprint world champion, won the first keirin world championship of his career.
The nation's endurance riders earned the other medals with 20-year-old Simon Yates winning the points race world championship, the first for Great Britain since Yates's coach Chris Newton claimed the world title in 2002, while the team pursuit squad of Steven Burke, Edward Clancy, Samuel Harrison and Andrew Tennant earned silver behind rival nation Australia. Burke, Clancy and Tennant were all part of the squad which won team pursuit gold in 2012, but were unable to defend their title in Minsk.
"We didn’t have it as a unit and we’ve got things to work on," Tennant told British Cycling. "There’s bright prospects coming up and snapping at our heels so that’s going to push everyone forward."