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Wow, what can I say, three days of competition, three medals, two World Records and one National Record. Going into Italy, the main concerns I had were
1. Could I pull out the pursuit ride my training has been geared to?
2. Would all the pursuit/endurance training I’ve done effect my top end speed?
3. Would three events back to back be a step too far?
Day 1 (4km Pursuit)
High five for Jody and his coach Chris Furber ...
Well, question 1 was answered on day one and it was a big yes! Preparing for the Worlds, myself and my coach (Chris Furber) targeted 4:45 as a realistic target. If I could do this, then based on previous results, this would put me in the top five or six riders in the World and score a healthy amount of points for the London qualification process.
However it would be a massive challenge as my best time prior to the world championships was a 5:03.286. Things had been going well in training and I was on target. I just had to get up there and put all the components together. With Chris walking the line, I tried to keep my 1st kilometre measured and controlled as I’d been finding it easy to get carried away, especially when your legs feel good.
More importantly though, this had been my big downfall in training and had led to some rather slow and incredibly painful efforts! By the time I reached 3km, I was feeling strong and still in control of my speed, and I now had my opponent all set for the catch. I swept by him in turn 3 and then pushed on through to the end. With my legs beginning to really burn with a lap to go, hearing the bell I just had enough to get me to the finish line.
Jody at speed on the Italian track during a good week for the British rider.
As I looked up to the score board, I was amazed to see I’d rode a 4:44.085 (an almost 20 second personal best time) and had a rank 1 next to my name! With just one heat to go, it meant I’d definitely be doing a second 4 ride in the finals but I would have to wait 5 minutes to find out what medal I’d be racing for. In that final qualifying heat, World champion and World record holder, Jiří Ježek, posted the fastest time of 4:41.895 and with his opponent falling short of my time, it meant I was a guaranteed silver medal and I would be racing Jiří in the final.
Before that final, I talked with Chris and discussed how we were going to attack it. As I had made the final, my competitive nature took over and I wanted to give Jiří a good fight and make him work for the title. My qualifying ride was a controlled measured effort and I believed I could squeeze out a little more and put some pressure on Jiří.
So we decided on riding to the WR schedule and see what would happen! This was all well and good, however by the time I was at lap three, I was a long way up on schedule, a very dangerous place to be in a pursuit, especially as this schedule was four seconds faster than I had rode in the morning. By lap 6, my over exuberance started to take its toll as I struggled to maintain the rhythm and speed I’d started with.
Kilo’s 2 and 3 were pretty steady before I managed to find my legs again, but by then my race was over, Jiří had me in sight. I managed to make it to the 4km without being overlapped, but Jiří was world champion, and I now had a new pet project to add to my list for London!
Day 2 (1km Time Trial)
Terry Bryne and Jody Cundy on the podium together after the Kilometre TT.
With the Pursuit over, and all my goals reached and exceeded, it was time to get back to events I know and love and to answer question 2. The Kilo was going to be an interesting race with 25 riders down on the start list and team mate Terry Byrne snapping at my heels in training, the pressure was on. Terry was off second rider and was out to post the marker everyone would be aiming at and he did just that blasting out of the gate to a two second PB and a time that only I had gone quicker than. All this before I’d even started warming up!
I was last to go and with Terry’s time still top of the table with Jiří Bouska second and Eduard Novak third, it was time to see how much my legs had recovered from the previous days efforts. Out of the gate, and I wanted to get the bike up to speed as fast as possible. First lap complete and I was 0.971 seconds up, my legs were feeling good as I settled into my tri bars and continued to accelerate through the middle section of the ride. As I crossed the line, I was a full 2.55 seconds clear of Terry and 0.3 seconds inside my WR winning time from Manchester 2009.
Question 2 was answered. I’d not lost any of my speed and as a bonus from all the endurance training, the last two laps didn’t hurt as much as in previous kilos. I think that’s the first time I’ve actually been able to enjoy my victory laps!
Day 3 (Team Sprint)
Number 1, again. Jody, Darren Kenny and Terry Bryne win the Team Sprint.
The last day of competition was the Team Sprint and I was teaming up with Darren Kenny who had already successfully defended his 3km Pursuit and Kilo titles in the previous two days, and Terry Byrne who would be riding man 2 after his silver medal in the Kilo the night before. This was a new line-up compared to past events, as the rules and classification classes had changed since the last World Championships which meant before the 2011 competition, our existing team was no longer a legal line-up.
With 15 teams riding, the competition had become stronger and in ride 10, the Chinese team set a new WR time of 51.655, taking 0.5 seconds off the existing mark. However this didn’t faze us as we knew that in training we’d been quicker than this new standard. Lining up on the track, it was important that we executed the starts and changes over smoothly and legally, as fast as possible, and we did just that, blazing around to a 49.809 to take the top qualification spot and smash the WR in the process.
In the final, after looking at the race data from the heats, we made some different gear choices and felt confident we could go faster. As we blasted round the track, our confidence was well founded as we smashed the WR again, taking it down to 49.540 with the feedback from the morning making a big difference in the final while the Chinese finished in 51.771.
With the final race complete and under my belt, it was clear all my questions at the start of the week had been answered. I could pull out a World Class Pursuit and hadn’t lost any of my top end speed. To, top it off, I was still riding fast on the last day of competition, setting the fastest third lap I’d ever done in the heats of the Team Sprint, with a 14.198.
Montichiari was a fabulous experience and one of those weekends of racing that as an athlete you love, because all the hard work has paid off and everything has come together. As a team, we topped the medal table with 9 Golds, 8 Silver and 1 Bronze. It’s starting to look good for London.
All that’s left to do now, is sit down with Chris Furber and analyse the performances and work out how to get even quicker for London. I now have a few days off, and then I’ll be back on my bike preparing for a summer of endurance that will hopefully set me up for next year.