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The 2013-14 UCI Track Cycling World Cup begins in Manchester this Friday with the Great Britain Cycling Team naming a 17-person squad that will compete in front of a home crowd.
Seven Olympic champions - Jason Kenny, Philip Hindes, Steven Burke, Ed Clancy, Dani King, Joanna Rowsell and Laura Trott - are included plus double world champion Becky James for three days of racing at the National Cycling Centre, a venue which last hosted a round in February 2011.
Fresh off the back of the European championships, the competition at Great Britain’s training base is an early opportunity for athletes to stake a claim for a place at next February’s UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Cali, Colombia.
Double world champion Becky James will contest the sprint, team sprint and keirin. James, 21, will be Great Britain’s only representative in the women’s keirin but is joined by national champion Jess Varnish in the individual sprint and Victoria Williamson in the team sprint.
It was with Williamson that James won team sprint bronze as part of her four-medal haul at the 2013 track world championships in Belarus. Since then she took a further team sprint bronze when partnered with Jess Varnish for the recent European championships in Apeldoorn.
James opted to miss the sprint in the Netherlands and finished seventh in the keirin while Varnish took individual sprint bronze after ousting France’s Virginie Cueff.
Olympic sprint gold medallist Anna Meares (Team Jayco-AIS) is among a quality field in the individual disciplines in her first major event since the London Olympics. Olympic and world champions Kristina Vogel and Miriam Welte will be the duo to watch in the team sprint.
In the men’s disciplines, three-time Olympic gold medallist and reigning world keirin champion Jason Kenny will compete across the sprint, keirin and team sprint for Great Britain.
In the team sprint, the 25-year-old is joined by fellow Olympic champion Philip Hindes and 21-year-old Kian Emadi. The trio finished sixth at the world championships in February and will be looking to build on the performance.
Kenny, who took bronze in the sprint in Apeldoorn, is joined by Matt Crampton in the discipline. Crampton did not contest the event at the Euros but finished eighth in the keirin.
Russian Denis Dmitriev demonstrated his form by becoming European sprint champion whilst Germany’s Maximilian Levy and Robert Forstemann, the only rider to go under the 10 second barrier in qualifying at the European championships a few weeks ago, will join ranks in what is a formidable sprint field.
Olympic silver medallist Gregory Bauge of France and sprint world champion Stefan Bötticher are notable absentees.
Team sprint silver medallists Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins are expected to link-up once more in the event for New Zealand whilst France have two-thirds of an Olympic silver medal winning trio in Michaël D'Almeida and Kévin Sireau with Bauge not present.
Olympic team pursuit champions Dani King, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell helped Great Britain continue its domination of the event in a new format of four riders over four kilometres, now matching the men’s discipline.
Victory at the European championships, where they were joined by world champion Elinor Barker and Scotland’s Katie Archibald, saw a world record for Britain, overcoming Poland in the gold medal final in a time 4:26.556.
King, Barker, Trott and Archibald rode in the final in Apeldoorn but Archibald will not compete for Great Britain in Manchester, instead representing her trade team.
Australia’s presence, along with Poland, Canada and Russia, should provide the British quartet with its firmest examination yet.
Trott will also ride the omnium, in which she is currently Olympic champion and world silver medallist. The 21-year-old added the European title to that list with a narrow victory over Kirsten Wild in the six-event discipline.
American Sarah Hammer, who Trott beat for gold in London, has not travelled to Manchester though Olympic bronze medallist Annette Edmondson of Australia will take to the boards.
Barker and Rowsell will both ride the individual pursuit. Rowsell has twice won gold in the event at UCI Track Cycling World Cup rounds, in London in 2012 and Melbourne back in 2008. King will take on the scratch race and Barker the points race.
In the men’s team pursuit, Great Britain feature two Olympic champions in Ed Clancy and Steven Burke in a squad of six, as an emerging group of talent adds itself to the selection options for coach Paul Manning in a discipline Britain has dominated at Olympic level.
Jon Dibben, Owain Doull, Sam Harrison and Andy Tennant join them. Clancy, Burke, Doull and Tennant rode to the European title against Russia in October.
None of Australia's Olympic silver medal team has travelled though New Zealand will have Marc Ryan and Aaron Gate, who were part of the team which won bronze at the London Velodrome last summer.
Jon Dibben will take on the omnium, the 19-year-old set to go against Denmark’s Lasse Norman Hansen who triumphed in London.
Twenty-year-old Owain Doull has earned selection for the points and scratch races while Steven Burke or Andy Tennant will ride the individual pursuit.