Becky James is excited to rejoin her Great Britain teammates for the 2013 UEC European Track Championships after spending September competing in Japan’s keirin season.
“It’s amazing to have so many girls to train with day in, day out - we’ve never really had that before. It’s great because you’ve got people keeping you on your toes constantly."
Double world champion James won all nine races she contested in Asia and returns to action on Friday for three days of competition in Apeldoorn as part of an 18-person squad.
The event in the Netherlands is followed by the opening round of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup series from 1-3 November at Great Britain’s training base in Manchester.
And James, 21, is welcoming the quick succession of events as she looks to build fitness and form for winter.
“I think it’s just good to get back into racing and get as much racing in as possible through the winter now,” said James, who won keirin and sprint world titles as part of a four-medal haul at the Minsk Arena in February.
“It will be a good step to have a few days of good racing at the Europeans before the world cup, rather than having a few weeks of training and then going into the world cup, I think racing can work that little better.”
James became the first British woman to race the keirin circuit in Japan, on the back of the summer’s under 23 European track championships and UCI track meetings, raced in order to qualify for the winter world cup series.
And while she enjoyed the experience, the rider from Abergavenny concedes the break from her normal training programme, coupled with leaving out the British National Track Championships, has left her short of peak condition.
“I found it really hard in Japan,” said James, who is set to make her first ever senior European championship appearance. “It was great to have the racing but you were only doing one race each day whereas you go to the European championships and you could do a good few races each day.
“It was hard for the training because you were in lockdown for four days at a time and you were travelling the day before and the day after.
"It was hard to get the training in so over the next few weeks at the Europeans and then the week before Manchester, it’s just getting the training in as much as possible before the world cup.”
After winning four titles in 2012, this year’s national championships were the first James has missed since her days as a youth rider, as teammate Jess Varnish replicated the match sprint, team sprint, keirin and 500 metre time trial wins that James achieved.
“It was really weird because that must be the first year since I was an under 14 when I haven’t competed in a national champs,” James admitted.
“I couldn’t even follow the results because I was racing that weekend, so to come back from racing and hear all the results from the nationals and not be a part of it was rather strange.”
Twenty-year-old Victoria Williamson will join James and Varnish in the Netherlands with a decision on the team sprint line-up yet to be finalised. Varnish and James proved their credentials with the overall women’s sprint title in the 2012-2013 UCI Track Cycling World Cup after victories in the Cali and Glasgow rounds.
An injury to London Olympian Varnish then saw Williamson pair up with James up for the world championships in Belarus, impressing in winning bronze.
With Katy Marchant and the emergence of double junior world champion Dannielle Khan presenting further options for selectors, the competition for places has never been stronger in the women’s sprint ranks.
“We’ve got a great big group of us here now,” James said.
“It’s amazing to have so many girls to train with day in, day out - we’ve never really had that before. It’s great because you’ve got people keeping you on your toes constantly.
“That’s sport for you. I think it’s the better way of seeing it, when you’ve got more people competing for that spot that you want.”