The track world championships will be a very different affair for the British team this year, and there?s no expectations from within camp of a Manchester style monster medal haul.
Of all the 2008 Olympic gold medal winners only Victoria Pendleton, Ed Clancy, Jason Kenny and Jamie Staff will be competing in the Pruskow velodrome.
The experienced heads of Chris Newton, Ross Edgar and Wendy Houvenaghel are also present, but a large part of the team will be made up of young riders, several of whom will be making their track world championship debut.
But it?s not only the riders who will be experiencing something different this week as British Cycling?s team of coaches will be given greater responsibility throughout the competition. Both Performance Director Dave Brailsford and former track manager Shane Sutton arrived in Poland just one day before the competition started, and were planning to take a back seat throughout the five days.
Sutton said that he wouldn?t even be entering the track centre, and would instead spend his time watching from the sidelines; and doing a little commentary for Eurosport.
Brailsford confirmed that Heiko Salzwedel would shoulder much of the responsibility of team management from now, and that he wanted to see how the younger coaches handled a greater level of responsibility.
Both Brailsford and Sutton are now heavily involved with the setting up of the Sky professional road team, something they wouldn?t have the time for without this new structure for the track squad.
A part of Salzwedel?s role will be managing expectations as the 19 rider team is not likely to win as many events as they have in the last two years.
One event the British team definitely won’t win is the individual pursuit, having taken the decision to not fill either of their two qualified places. This, let’s not forget, is Britain?s event. As a nation we have won this world title more times than any other, but according to the British team management, they have nothing left to learn in this event, and little to gain from entering a rider.
Clancy had been tipped to ride since last year?s Manchester world cup, but the Halfords rider recently broke a bone in his foot, and will now only ride the team pursuit, an event where there is still much to learn because to the number of variations.
Clancy is likely to be joined by Steven Burke (who is expected to ride man one), Jonny Bellis and Peter Kennaugh for the team pursuit, and while the quartet may dip below the four minute mark if conditions are right, they?re not guaranteed a medal.
The idea is to learn what this new combination can do as a team, and getting that data is more important at this point of a four-year Olympic cycle than winning medals.
The British team sprint trio is also changed from Beijing because of Sir Chris Hoy?s injury. Matt Crampton is expected to join Jamie Staff and Jason Kenny for this event. Having ridden well through the winter, the French are expected to be out for revenge at this year?s worlds.
Chris Newton and Mark Cavendish will both be medal conteders in the bunch races, but will also be heavily marked throughout, making it impossible to predict what they can achieve.
So if we are looking for any dominance of events from the Brits, we have to look to the women. Pendleton will go for four golds in the sprint races while Lizzie Armitstead will look to step up from her astonishing performances in the world cups.
Armitstead was the revelation of this winter?s world cup series taking wins in the points and scratch races and the team pursuit. It is she that could come out of this year?s worlds with the media?s attention on her.
No matter how many golds the British team comes back with, it?s what they learn over the next five days, about their riders and coaches, that will have the biggest outcome on London 2012.
2009 UCI TRACK CYCLING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
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Track Cycling World Championships 2009 official website
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