Great Britain's team pursuit coach Heiko Salzwedel has confirmed reports that the men's team have broken the world record in training and that his order for the qualifying round of the Olympic Games, which starts on August 11, will be Ed Clancy, Owain Doull, Steven Burke and Bradley Wiggins. The current world record was set by Great Britain at the London Games four years ago, when they set a time of 3:51:659.
Mark Cavendish, who completes the endurance team and will ride in the Omnium, may still ride in the pursuit, according to Salzwedel, but a final decision will only be made during the Games.
"They're breaking the world record in training. That's no secret and a couple of people have seen it. How much faster, I don't want to elaborate," Salzwedel told Cyclingnews just before leaving for Rio on Wednesday.
The team held a pre-Olympic training camp in Newport, Wales, and used the local velodrome to prepare.
"The camp has been a good environment and has provided some good memories for the riders from back in 2008 and 2012 when we used the same location," Salzwedel added.
If Wiggins and the team are to come away from Rio with their title successfully defended then they will need to see off the challenge from Australia. Their arch rivals inflicted defeat on home soil at the World Championships in London earlier this year, but Salzwedel insists that his team have moved on significantly since then.
"Since the World Championships the riders have really stood up. Someone like Ed Clancy, for example, we don't need to worry about his back injury anymore. He still has to do his extra exercises and has to pay attention but he's really moved on.
"I don't know what the Aussies are Kiwis are doing. All I know is that we're in a good place and riding at a high speed. It's not just Ed who has improved. He's back to where he was before his injury, if not better, but I'd say the other riders have all improved."
Salzwedel adds that it's not just the riders who have upped their game. After the defeat to Australia in the final at the Worlds, Salzwedel was critical of some his own decisions but he has taken on board feedback from the riders and incorporated it into the team's set-up.
"I'm also learning to listen more and more to the riders and put their input into the programme. There's a give-and-take and that's helped our environment."
'Cavendish can do the numbers'
Cavendish heads onto the track after a hugely successful Tour de France in which he won four stages and wore the maillot jaune. He will target gold in the Omnium but Salzwedel still believes he has an important role to play in the team pursuit, despite the fact he will not ride the qualifying round.
"We'll see," the German said when asked if Cavendish would ride in the later rounds.
"He's certainly capable so we'll see if we include him. We'll make a call on the day because it's not something that you set in stone now. He certainly won't do the qualification ride but we're prepared for all eventualities. We're prepared to include him, we're prepared not to include him. We're prepared to have Clancy as man one, we're prepared to have Bradley as man two. We've gone through all kinds of scenarios.
"As for Mark, it's not a matter of numbers, it's more about technique. He's catching up with his lack of track miles but he's an exceptional rider, which he proved at the Tour. He also brings a lot of high morale and he can do the numbers."
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