British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme sprint coach Jan Van Eijden has backed Ed Clancy and Becky James to step up to their respective roles in Great Britain’s sprint ensemble.
Double Olympic champion Clancy will make the switch from the team pursuit discipline to team sprint at the Glasgow World Cup – at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome from 16-18 November – while James is hoping to impress in the women’s team sprint, keirin and sprint events following the void left by Victoria Pendleton’s retirement.
Alongside Philip Hindes and Jason Kenny, Clancy will take on the man three position filled by Sir Chris Hoy at the London Olympics with the Scotsman on a post-Olympic break from the boards. Junior sprint and keirin world champion James is tasked with the position two role with Jess Varnish retaining the job of the standing lap she delivered in London.
James and Varnish have previously competed together at the 2011 Manchester world cup round, whereas for Clancy it will a first outing the team sprint having previously specialised in the endurance-based team pursuit as well as the omnium, in which he won bronze at the Olympic velodrome.
In particular, notable performances in the flying lap and 1km time-trial in the omnium brought Clancy’s sprint credentials to attention of Great Britain’s coaches.
“Fortunately enough in Becky James we have got a very talented upcoming star who with Jess Varnish have a good potential in the world cup in Glasgow but also moving forward."
Jan Van Eijden
“Ed is on a trial with the sprint squad at the moment,” Van Eijden explained. “If you see his performances throughout the last two years in the omnium that he posted some really decent times in the flying lap as well as the kilo and that sort of started his interest as well as ours, what would he be capable of as a sprinter?
“The most obvious one is man three in the team sprint. With Chris [Hoy] taking this season out we’ve been looking to find a man three - he has thrown his hat in the ring and has been training with the sprint squad at the moment.
“Training so far has been really promising, the main thing for him is to get on the start behind Philip and Jason and then we’ll only see in Glasgow what he can do in man three. In training you don’t really see proper times for man three so Glasgow is going to be the first indicator and we’ll go from there.
“So far it’s a process of trying to increase his peak power and getting him onto the start. His training is based around the standing starts on raised gear following either Philip or Jason and being exposed to that faster start, he is doing really well at the moment.”
Van Eijden added that the 27-year-old has not yet undertaken the gym work normally done by sprinters to allow him to revert back to the pursuit should the team sprint not work out in Glasgow. “If you start putting him into the gym and he puts on 10kg of muscle mass he is going to struggle to switch back,” the German commented.
Pendleton’s exit leaves James (20) and Varnish (21) as Great Britain’s most senior female sprinters ahead of Olympic Academy Programme riders Victoria Williamson and Rosie Blount.
The duo have already been victorious together in the Cali Track World Cup in October, where James took on the standing lap though Van Eijden expects Varnish to return to the role.
“Vicky was a huge driver in the women’s squad,” Van Eijden said.
“For a long time she was the only female sprinter on the squad and if you look back on Vicky’s achievements over the last 10 years you think can that be replicated again? You can never say never but after Vicky’s retirement we need to try and fill that position again.
“Fortunately enough in Becky James we have got a very talented upcoming star who with Jess Varnish have a good potential in the world cup in Glasgow but also moving forward to the worlds in Minsk, over the next cycle towards the next Olympics to hopefully manifest a solid position in the women’s team sprint.
“At the moment it’s our long term projection that Jess will be in position one and Becky will ride in position two. We had a change in Cali in the world cup, Jess only started training before and was in a solid training phase over the Cali world cup period heading towards Glasgow and therefore we swapped around. That worked really well actually in Cali but hopefully in Glasgow we will go a bit faster than that.”