Great Britain’s male junior team pursuit quartet smashed a six-year-old benchmark by setting a new national record last week – before breaking their own record just nine days later.
At the European Junior and U23 Track Championships in Montichiari, Italy, the quartet of Ethan Hayter, Fred Wright, Matthew Walls and Reece Wood won gold with a stunning time of 4:04.142.
That superseded the national record of 4:08.402 set back at the 2010 Junior World Track Championships on the same track by Owain Doull, Sam Harrison, Dan McLay and Simon Yates.
Then, at the Junior World Track Championships in Aigle, Switzerland, on Thursday, the quartet – with Rhys Britton replacing Wright – improved on their time to race a 4:03.863 in their semi-final ride against Denmark.
Unfortunately for the four Brits, that wasn’t enough to qualify them for the final as the Danes beat their time by 0.821. Denmark, however, were beaten in the final by an even quicker time: New Zealand setting a world record of 4:01.409.
“What’s been good is that the lads have set a national record on an unfamiliar 200m track which they only got two practise sessions on before the qualifying round,” Ian Yates, British Cycling’s performance pathway manager, told Cycling Weekly.
“To turn it round so quickly in 36 hours and to improve on the record was fantastic. The coaches are very pleased.”
Given what the riders who they disposed the record of have subsequently achieved (Doull is set to join Team Sky after the Rio Olympics; McLay has impressed at his debut Tour de France; and Simon Yates has been touted as a potential Tour contender), there are high hopes for the current Junior Academy.
“What we’re seeing is the development of bike riders, not the development of bikes. The success is down to their own physical development,” Yates added.