Published: 14 October 2013
By Scott Hobro
Olympic champion Joanna Rowsell wants Great Britain to continue its supremacy in the women’s team pursuit as the event enters a new era.
Rowsell will return to major international track competition at this weekend’s European championships in Apeldoorn, following a break from the boards after the 2012 London Games where she won gold with Laura Trott and Dani King.
Changes by cycling’s world governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI), mean the women’s team pursuit will now match the men’s version, contested by four athletes over four kilometres.
Rowsell, Trott and King will be joined by world champion Elinor Barker and Scotland’s Katie Archibald in the women’s endurance team for the championships.
And three-time world champion Rowsell is keen to set the standard at the Omnisport arena.
“We want to win, we don’t want to be stood in second or third on the podium,” the 24-year-old said.
“We want to be on that top step all of the time, every time. We just want to win.”
As well as Olympic success, Great Britain won five of a possible six world titles in the discipline from 2008 to 2013, only being denied at the 2010 world championships when Australia took gold.
For Rowsell, who was present at four of the world meetings, a change to the setup of the event is a fresh test she welcomes.
“I really like it, I don’t know how I would have felt had it stayed at three kilometres,” she said.
“Personally I really like the new challenge, I had been doing three kilometres for five years since it first came into the worlds in 2008 so for me, it’s really nice to have a change and something else to work towards.
“We knew the three-kilometre event inside out and we knew exactly how to ride it perfectly by the Olympics so it’s nice to start that process again with something slightly different.
“It sounds very similar but when you really into it there are so many subtle differences, I’m finding it quite interesting exploring the new event and figuring out how to go faster using different methods and turn lengths. I’m enjoying it.”
Rowsell - along with King, Trott and Barker - have already competed over the four-kilometre distance at the British National Track Championships in September.
There they won the title in a time of four minutes and 32 seconds at the Manchester velodrome, but judging what will be a winning effort on the international front is a difficult ask in the first season of competition.
“The Euros will be a good first test for us but Apeldoorn is a notoriously slow track so the Manchester world cup (in November) will probably be a better gauge of times.
“It’ll be interesting to see how the winter goes with the times and what the other nations do,” she commented.
“We’ll be taking note on what they do and they’ll be taking note of what we do. Then we’ll come together at the worlds and hopefully we’ll come out on top but it’s quite exciting having a new challenge and you just don’t know.
“Over the past couple of weeks we’ve got a bit more of an idea of what we’re aiming for.”
A broken collarbone suffered during the Prudential RideLondon Grand Prix in August, when reaching the end of her road season with Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling, placed Rowsell’s comeback to the track in jeopardy.
But her return just four weeks later was marked with victory in the individual pursuit at the International Belgium Open in Ghent.
“I wouldn’t say I’m 100% recovered from it. I’m having regular massages and physio to stop me being so lob sided,” she explained.
Rowsell also acknowledged the strength of the women’s endurance programme which will work towards the Rio Olympics and the benefits it can bring in driving the team forward.
For Great Britain, Amy Roberts and recently crowned junior world champions Emily Kay, Emily Nelson, Amy Hill and Hayley Jones are among a talented group of promising athletes.
“We’re well aware that there are people beneath us pushing for our places, which I think is good to have,” Rowsell said.
“For the Games, two years out we had 12 riders going for three spots. Gradually it got whittled down to the four of us who went.
“Although at times as an athlete you just want to know you are competing, I think it actually works really well because you are always pushing that little bit harder and every single training session you need to prove you are the best.
“That makes everyone go faster and as a team you progress, I think that’s one of the secrets to our success.