British pursuit team upbeat about Tokyo prospects despite loss to USA

Riders hope the pain of loss will push them onto greater heights

The Great British women’s team pursuit team have pledged there’s plenty more speed to come from them in Tokyo after being beaten by the USA in the World Championship final.

The British quartet of Katie Archibald, Neah Evans, Elinor Barker and Ellie Dickinson came in two seconds behind the Americans to take silver in the final in Berlin.

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Barker said: “It hurts a bit at the minute but hopefully it’ll give us a push to try and avoid that.”

Archibald said: “I think I would have been more satisfied had I ridden faster and then been beaten by a faster team. To have such a gap, I didn’t expect. I want us to do more and I know we can.”

The squad will have all new kit for Tokyo, notably the Hope and Lotus track bike that was unveiled last year, all of which will contribute to making them faster.

When asked how much more they felt they could physically deliver Evans said: “You never know where the ceiling is, what the limit is. We don’t know, this might be as good as we can get or we might get gains just next week. We just have no idea. I think it’s nice to believe that we have been targeting the Olympics not the World Championships.

“Obviously we’ve taken it seriously we have tapered but we use it more as learning taper rather than the focus of the whole four year cycle.”

Despite coming second there was good reason for positivity as the World record holders rode one of the fastest times in history in the qualifying round, though the USA rode slightly faster there too.

Barker said: “Qualifying was really, really very positive and it’s definitely a highlight of the last couple of days for us I think it was the happiest I’ve felt for a long time.”

The British squad have been riding their regulation Cervélo bikes at the Championships while Barker pointed out that the USA did “seem to be on pretty quick kit”. The USA team had their unorthodox left-hand drive bikes that they used at the Rio Olympics in Berlin.

Also Laura Kenny, usually a lynchpin of the team, only rode the first round in Berlin as she is still recovering from a shoulder injury last month that has made the standing start of the team pursuit difficult. Her addition at full could well further strengthen the quartet – though the quality of the women’s endurance squad is deep so it would seem unlikely to make the difference that the return of Chloe Dygert to the USA has made.

Asked if coming second at the Worlds might ease the pressure for Tokyo Dickinson said with a smile: “Well is there is a thing that the people who don’t win the world’s win the Olympics so….”