Jessica Varnish looks to the future

Jessica Varnish leads out Victoria Pendleton

Jessica Varnish leads out Victoria Pendleton (Image credit: Tour of Japan)

After a disappointing Olympic Games, Jessica Varnish is ready to turn her attention to new goals. The 21-year-old was relegated alongside Victoria Pendleton in the Olympic team sprint and subsequently missed out on the chance of a medal. It brought Varnish’s Games to a premature end but despite the let down she is already aiming at the track world championships which take place next February.

“I will definitely be going for the Worlds but what position and events, I’m not too sure. I’ve got to sit down with my coach and discuss what position would suit me best in the team sprint,” she told Cyclingnews.

Varnish and Pendleton formed one of the most successful partnerships in track team sprinting but with the latter’s subsequent retirement from cycling, Varnish finds herself on the look out for a new teammate. The British Academy could be one scouting pool, while former track rider Shanaze Reade has publicly declared an interest in moving back to the track from her current role in BMX.

“Obviously I have been training for man 1, but I’ve also got the best 500 meters time, so it just depends on what will be best for the team and where it will be best to put me and the other rider.”

“I just want the fastest rider to race with. Shanaze has been thinking about coming back to the sprint but we’ve also got Rebecca James and Victoria Williams who is on the Under 23 Academy now.”

Not that Varnish is looking to focus on one discipline. While her Olympics saw her compete in just the team sprint, she is a talented keirin and individual sprint rider in her own right. With Pendleton out of the frame, she may wish to mix disciplines as until now she has lacked the room to manoeuvre.

“I’ll need to get more switched on with the individual events because obviously I’ve just been focussing on the team sprint which is just one lap and everything else beyond that is a bonus. That was enough to get me to the Olympics and I’m happy with that but I think I’m more of a racer and have more for the long sprint but I’ve not been able to train for that.”

“I’ve always raced individual sprint and keirin but I’ve just not had the time to train for it as it was always about the team sprint so I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do if I’m training for those events.”

Such a path could see her fill the vacuum created by Pendleton’s exit. Not that Varnish feels that there’s extra pressure on her to succeed.

“Everyone always expects you to do what the last person did, but that’s completely irrelevant. We’re totally different people and different athletes. It all depends on doing your own thing and not worrying about what people did in the past.”

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Daniel Benson

Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.