British Cycling today announced its 27 rider team to compete at the track world cup in Manchester next month. With a mix of Olympic champions and emerging young talent it looks like the strongest British team ever assembled.
The three-day event starting on February 18 will see the return of Olympic team pursuit champions Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas. The last time they rode a team pursuit together they set the world record and won Olympic gold in Beijing. Team pursuit training sessions this Monday will be the first for Wiggins since Beijing.
Both the men’s and women’s endurance line-ups have an embarrassment of riches as Olympic champion Rebecca Romero also makes her return to track racing after a year experimenting with time trialling on the road.
Both a GB and 100% ME team will compete in the women’s team pursuit, but despite ten male team pursuiters being named, only one GB quartet will ride in the men’s event. Competition for the final five places will be fierce. “[Selection] will be done off of performance trials on the track,” explained men’s endurance coach Dan Hunt. “Bradley and G (Geraint Thomas) need to demonstrate their capabilities, but they’ve got good history.”
“We film everything, and break everything down in to half lap splits and delivery speeds and pick a team off of that. Most of the time we get it [right]. Sometimes there’s bit of feel that goes in to it, but on the whole it’s done objectively.”
The names on the list will undoubtedly make for a fast race, even if their main adversaries the Australians aren’t fielding a team. “I’m not going to say we’re going to beat the world record because that was done at the Olympics with Olympic preparation in Olympic kit. To go that fast is incredibly difficult,” Hunt said.
18-year-old Sam Harrison has been named in the squad after winning gold in the omnium at the recent Beijing world cup, and could ride the omnium again in 100% ME colours. Other riders breaking through to this level of competition include Luke Rowe, Laura Trott, Dani King and Claire Galloway.
Triple Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy continues his quest for 2012 Olympic qualification points in Manchester as does Victoria Pendleton. With three other sprinters joining them, both are likely to compete in the team sprint as well as the individual sprint.
The track World Cup runs from Friday 18 to Sunday 20 at Manchester Velodrome.
Sir Chris Hoy