The British cycling team returned from the track cycling world championships with their worst medal haul since 2001.
- French fans celebrate their new home with more gold in sprint and Madison

Laura Trott couldn’t deliver the gold medal the British team desperately needed on the final day of racing at the track cycling world championships in Paris today.

It meant Great Britain left the track champs without a gold medal for the first time since 2001, when they won a silver and a bronze.

Trott, the Olympic champion, went in to the second day of omnium competition locked in a close battle with Annette Edmondson (Aus), Kirsten Wild (Ned) and Jolien D’Hoore (Bel), as Britain’s only realistic gold medal chance and live coverage scheduled on the BBC.

The 500m tt, usually Trott’s strongest event, didn’t go to plan as she finished fifth to go in to the final points race trailing Edmondson by 14 points. Normally that wouldn’t be an insurmountable lead, but there was no touching the flying Aussie. Three rounds of team pursuit had taken more out of Trott than it had Edmondson who, along with her compatriots, was in stunning form all week.

Trott-Points-race

“I am really happy with silver,” Trott said afterwards. “After the scratch race I’d never have imagined I was even going to get a medal.” Others had higher hopes especially as reigning champion Sarah Hammer (USA) had faded due to illness.

“I tend to try to put [the pressure] to the back of my mind. I’ll try my hardest no matter what, whether I was winning or whether I was last. I would’ve tried my best. I just happened to get silver on the day.” Trott said.

Laura Trott in the women's omnium 2015 track cycling world championships in Paris

Laura Trott in the women’s omnium 2015 track cycling world championships in Paris

Australia's Annette Edmondson celebrates finally landing the omnium world title

Australia’s Annette Edmondson celebrates finally landing the omnium world title

French cycling fans had been in good voice all week in their new velodrome, but on the final day of racing in Paris they had more to cheer about than usual.

The pair of Bryan Coquard and Morgan Knieskly spent the first half of the Madison chasing the race to rapturous cheers after Owain Doull and Mark Christian took an early lap on the field. Coquard and Kniesky had the highest points total but needed to get the lap back in order to win.

In the final third of the race, as the bunch split to pieces, the British pair capitulated as Doull, the latest British rider to succumb to illness this week, came to a virtual stand still.

The French were chasing down the Brits for the first half of the Madison, perhaps this is what Sarkosy and Cookson are sharing a joke about.

The French were chasing down the Brits for the first half of the Madison, perhaps this is what Sarkosy and Cookson are sharing a joke about.

As the scoreboard finally updated to show France in the lead the crowd found a few more decibels. The pair’s earlier efforts could have come back to bite them at this point, but with Italy just a couple of points behind and the crowd in good voice they had no choice of letting up.

It came down to the final sprint but France held on to take their fourth gold medal of the championships.

As soon as the track had cleared, Gregory Bauge rolled up for his deciding match sprint. A multiple world champion, Bauge hasn’t been at his best since the Olympics when he was so dumfounded by the margin of his loss to Jason Kenny that he started asking the questions in the press conference.

Bauge doesn’t ride the keirin and before Wednesday evening the French hadn’t won the team sprint since 2009. Had he lost his mojo? He’d beaten a tired looking François Pervis in two thrilling semi-final match sprints before caming up against an impressive looking Denis Dmitriev of Russia in the final.

Gregory Bauge is back

Gregory Bauge is back

Bauge though has regained his form and is back on top. There was a surprising lack of competition from the Germans and Australians but the Kiwis, and Bauge’s compatriot’s made up for it. With Quentin Lafargue and Pervis in the running, the French sprinters are back on top. The question will be whether or not they will still be there in Brazil.

They won all four sprint gold medals in Paris and have won more sprint world medals than any other nation this century. They do however have a habit of getting it hopelessly wrong at the Olympic Games. Their fortunes in Rio will be closely watched.

Pervis-Bauge-2

Anna Meares saw to it that the Australian domination of women’s track cycling was unquestionable when she won the keirin, her eleventh world title. Meares faltered in the sprint, going out in the 1/8 finals, but after a days recovery came back strong in the keirin.

Anna Meares wins the keirin to take the eleventh world title of her career

Anna Meares wins the keirin to take the eleventh world title of her career

RESULTS TO COME…

  • Dave2020

    Yes, it would be interesting to know what the rest of the world is doing. If they do put the same emphasis on crude strength, there ARE methods which would never injure the riders. Frankly, that is incompetent and irresponsible.

    At risk of sounding like an opinionated perfectionist, I know I’m right in saying good technique – biomechanics – is the only way for any athlete on a bike to reach their full potential. It’s simply common sense and sound science. Raising your optimal cadence by 10 rpm is fundamental to racing performance. 10 kg on your PB lift is of no use whatsoever and yet Chris Hoy was proud to do a record squat one week before a competition where he admitted he was lacking a bit of speed!

    Two elements contribute more to overall performance than all the other things put together. i.e. The natural athletic gifts and the competitive mind to go with it. A good coach would cultivate both without forcing the athlete too far.

    If you see riders sitting ‘on-the-rivet’ and the majority do under pressure, you can be sure their biomechanics are at fault. If their pedalling action was perfectly ‘in tune’ with the circling cranks there would be no adverse tension in the arms and body. There’s a word for it – souplesse – and it means using the calf muscles to enhance power transfer, not pointing the toes down with rigid ankles!! The modern ‘push-down’ position on the bike is not conducive to efficient high cadence technique – end of story. If the hips are rocking you’ve got it wrong.

    I went through the whole learning process half a century ago, lifting 226 kg (3.4x bodyweight) on a leg press and using an iron boot to do hamstring curls. This at a time when strength training was frowned upon – “You’ll get muscle-bound”! I did squats, bench press and all the other exercises, but never injured myself. One golden rule; don’t hold your breath when you move any weight.

    I concluded that the gym work wasn’t specific enough for the bike, so I made my own equipment to do the perfect job; sit on a saddle and lift the weight with the cranks – simples! I offered to give a new version to the Manchester gym, but Jamie Staff and Iain Dyer were too proud to accept it. That was back in 2009, before Jamie’s back gave out. Nowt so queer as folk.

  • Michael

    The problem with any system approach on this scale is that it won’t suit all athletes, however you cannot say it isn’t delivering against the established measures of success (i.e. olympic medals).
    The other problem is that its difficult to determine which elements contribute more to overall performance – facilities, coaching, equipment, medical, athlete care etc

    So long as the primary criteria for funding remains winning olympic gold medals i can’t see any significant change happening – until they fail to deliver.

    It seems to me that lottery funding enabled team GB to raise the bar in terms of how elite sport is managed, but the natural response to that is for other countries to raise their game to close the gap.

    I’d be interested to know whether Australia, NZ, Netherlands, Russia, Canada etc are copying the UK approach or doing it their own way – for example with less focus on strength training?

  • Michael

    My interpretation is that in order to be at the level they believe is required to win in 2016 our athletes cannot also be competitive in early 2015. It’s their job to make that call and their responsibility to get it right – presumably they’ve been told Olympic success is what they’ll be judged on.
    Such single minded focus might not meet the public’s demand for success year in year our, but i suspect the rest of the world has now got too good to repeat our consistent domination of previous years.
    I wouldn’t presume to judge whether the coaching is world class, but i guess we’ll all know by the end of next year!

  • Dave2020

    I’ve never understood Team GB’s undervaluing of Rainbow Jerseys and Championship races. They’re there for the taking every year, but an Olympics once in four years is SO important that you undermine your riders’ performances during this potty “Olympic cycle”! Are they nuts? We enter nobody for the women’s road ITT or their points race in Paris. How pathetic is that?

    What on Earth was Kenny doing? Why can’t Varnish peak at the right time? Why does Sutton, in – “Conceding that the majority of the team were ‘still heavy’ from gym strengthening work” – not then CHANGE what they’ve been doing wrong?

    “We’ve felt very comfortable in the qualifying rounds,“ Edmondson noted. “We had four riders left, and we still hadn’t used up all our energy.”

    “We’ve changed the way we look at bike racing,” said Hoskins. “The way we look at the team pursuit is different, so is the way we look at our training.”

    Compared to the cloud of depression affecting the Brits, I think the Aussies look like they’re in a better place – “At this point in the Olympic cycle”!

    The staff at BC needed to look for something different after Beijing. As Dave Brailsford said – “We can’t do the same things for the next four years. We’ve got to stimulate coaches to come up with new ideas.” But they kidded themselves that their methods were (and still are!) “world class”, so nothing changes. Does anybody have a record of all the training injuries suffered over the past seven years?

  • Edvid

    That is understandable to an extent when you consider that:
    * Track cycling has underpinned recent overall Olympic success for GB (which is rightfully a big deal)
    * Track WCh are the second biggest event for trackies; .1 races rank below Grand Tours, Road WCh, WorldTour/HC races, Olympic RR (although road cycling is significantly more prestigious than track)
    * Track also breeds talent for the road, such as Cavendish & Wiggins. Omnium WC Gaviria is clearly a name for the future.

    On the road, it certainly has been a good month for the Brits. 4 GC victories and a big handful of stage wins (including Lizzie Armitstead in the LToQ).

  • dourscot

    Disappointing for Britain but a reminder that the future of the sport lies in grow-up road racing not the obsession with riding around an oval to do well in the Olympics.

    NB: Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome both won major races in the same weekend but people preferred to notice the track failure.

    Same old.