Great Britain topped the medals at the European Track Championships in Switzerland with a haul of nine medals. However head coach Shane Sutton is under no illusion of the work to team must do if they are to transform a number of sub par performances in tine for next year’s Rio Olympics.
Great Britain dominated the endurance events with and secured six gold medals – five on them coming via the women, but their sprint squads misfired throughout the championships, with no riders making it into any of the finals. Only former heptathlete Katy Marchant impressed, taking fourth in the kilometre time trial. Sutton stressed that the success in the endurance events would not paper over any cracks and that the team had shown signs of improvement in recent months.
“It was pleasing to come away with such a strong level of success in the endurance side but we obviously know that we still have a lot of work to do. What we can say is that we’re on track,” Sutton told Cyclingnews.
“I think the team pursuit squads are gelling so well and producing results. As a group what I’ve seen is that everyone is starting to come together when it counts, and that’s across the coaches, staff and riders. We’ve creating a feel good factor in the centre of the track and if we can maintain this we’ll be in a good place.”
Laura Trott and Katie Archibold were the stand out performers, winning three gold medals each, with Trott now having won ten European titles at the slender age of 23. However in the Sprint events the teams were found wanting in almost every department. Jason Kenny in particular is still not at the level that saw him win a gold medal at the London Olympics in 2012.
“In the sprints we obviously have a lot of work to do but on an individual sprint level I saw some positives out there, even if the results didn’t match up with that. Hopefully we can turn that around, find some momentum and bring it into Rio next year,” Sutton said.
“Jason is a major player and I’d say he showed he’s improving too. You just need one guy to step up, like him, and it will galvanise everyone around the place. Then the rest will follow. Look, he had no excuses and didn’t give any. That’s the sort of guy Jason is. He’s a stand-up guy and he knows what’s required. You don’t win the Olympic medals he has without knowing what you need to do. The form is there he’s just not executing it the way he should. I can’t ask for more from him. To be honest they’re all applying themselves and that’s all they can do.”
Despite Kenny’s lack of success in Switzerland, Sutton added that the team would finesse their form over the coming weeks with the first track world cup in Cali, Colombia, at the end of October.
“We’re within touching distance of competing for some of those sprint medals. If we can tweak a few things here and there we’ll see more benefits, so it’s not all doom and gloom. I’m confident, and so are the coaches, in the riders that we have.”