This is how the British Olympic team practice social distancing track starts

Wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole…

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For the British Olympic team, 2020 has no doubt been year of uncertainty and frustration, but isn't stopping riders and staff from innovating.

The Olympics have been postponed until next year due to coronavirus and riders were unable to train on the track as venues across the UK were closed.

But last week a limited number of Britain’s track stars were able to return to the track, with some strict social distancing measures in place.

A video has now emerged showing one of the bizarre (or innovative) techniques the track team have developed to continue training without breaching the two metre social distancing guidelines.

Sprint coach Kevin Stewart shared a video, showing him using a long pole to get riders to the start line and giving them a push of without having to come into direct contact.

Stewart said: “Social distancing doesn’t mean performance compromise here at British Cycling.

“This absolutely way the first attempt of course…”

After the UK went into lockdown in March the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, HQ for the Great Britain Cycling Team, was closed which left athletes without a place to hone in their track skills.

Last Tuesday (May 28), Britain’s track stars returned to the boards to continue their preparation for the Tokyo Olympics next summer.

Just 12 riders from the team re-entered the velodrome, including Jason Kenny, as British Cycling said it carried out extensive risk assessments with all staff and riders having pre-screening health checks before entering the building, one-way systems being put in place and riders being spread out around the track.

The facility is only being used for training that cannot be done outside, while British Cycling performance director Stephen Park said that the track is only open for athletes likely to be heading to Tokyo.

Sir Chris Hoy responded to the video: “Surprised this gadget wasn’t invented years ago, what with the sprinters’ high protein diets…”

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Cycling Weekly columnist Dr Hutch said: “Endurance coaches probably don’t have enough upper body strength to do this. I’ve watched it about 50 times. It’s find of fascinating.”

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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.