2014 UCI Track Cycling World Championships coverage | Get into track cycling |
Published: 25 February 2014
Written by: Scott Hobro
Videos: Simon Powers and Eddie Allen
A 17-strong Great Britain Cycling Team will compete at the 2014 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Cali, Colombia from 26 February-2 March.
Seven Olympic champions will feature for Great Britain at the Alcides Nieto Patino Velodrome with the team defending titles in five events from the 2013 competition in Minsk.
Double world champion Becky James will try to defend her sprint and keirin titles in South America. The 21-year-old from Abergavenny will race in a field that includes Australian Olympic champion Anna Meares.
James, who has won three silver and two bronze medals during the UCI Track Cycling World Cup season, says she will try and adopt the approach that worked so well in Belarus.
“Last year at the world champs in Minsk I found I was really relaxed,” James said.
“I just had a mindset that I didn't have any expectations whatsoever and I just found I got so much more out of myself because I didn't expect too much.
“I know it's different being a world champion but I think I need to go into this race with that sort of mindset too because I think I'll definitely get the best out of myself.”
James will be joined in the team sprint by London Olympian Jess Varnish. Last year Victoria Williamson paired with James to win bronze last year in her first senior world championships.
Varnish missed the 2013 meeting with a serious back injury but returned to action at the start of the 2013/14 season.
“It was horrible to miss out on last year's worlds but I'm really, really happy to be in the team and off to Cali,” said Varnish, who suffered a damaged disc in her back.
“I'm so excited about it and just looking forward to going out there and doing my best really.”
Varnish and Williamson will join James in the sprint and keirin with Williamson and James to ride the 500m time-trial, in which James won bronze 12 months ago.
Three-time Olympic champion Jason Kenny will attempt to defend his keirin world title as well as competing in the team sprint and individual sprint.
Kenny has picked up three medals – two silver and one bronze – in this season’s UCI Track Cycling World Cup. The 25-year-old also won two medals at last September’s European championships including keirin silver in Apeldoorn.
“I feel like my form is OK going into the world championships,” said Kenny, who has won two rainbow jerseys in his career. “I would like to be going faster but I think I would always like to be going faster.
“I'm pretty happy with how everything has gone. We'll have to see what happens, it’s kind of icing on the cake time at the world championships.”
Kenny is joined in the team sprint by 21-year-olds Kian Emadi and Philip Hindes. The trio will look to improve on fifth place at last year’s meeting and Olympic champion Hindes is confident in their form.
“I'm really looking forward to it, it's my third world championships and I've never been on the podium so hopefully we will do a best time and win,” said Hindes, who rides in the man-one spot.
“It's a big target for us to win.”
Great Britain last won a men’s team sprint world title in 2005.
Matt Crampton and Kian Emadi join Kenny in the individual sprint and keirin. Crampton narrowly missed out on bronze in the sprint at the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Manchester in November before winning keirin gold at round two in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
“It's been a good season, I've worked on other strengths which has helped my keirin racing and (individual) sprinting,” 27-year-old Crampton said.
“I've been in the game quite a few years now and I've won races on my day, and on my day I can be up there and the goal is to win and try to do everything I can.”
Emadi will ride the kilo, having finished fourth last year.
Great Britain can continue its domination of the women’s team pursuit with victory in the four-kilometre, four-person event – the first time it will be run in the format at a senior world championships.
The squad won women’s team pursuit gold in the three-kilometre format at all but one of the seven world championships since its debut in 2007, taking silver in 2010.
This season various combinations of a squad consisting of Olympic champions Laura Trott, Dani King, Joanna Rowsell, world champion Elinor Barker and newcomer Katie Archibald have broken the world record on six successive occasions.
Most recently Barker, Rowsell, King and Archibald took the time down to 4:16.552 in Aguascalientes in December.
“We're very aware that the rest of the world are trying to catch up with us,” Rowsell said. “The Canadian team particularly have been quite impressive this season so hopefully they'll do a good time and push us because it's always good to have a good race. Australia always come out with a good ride on the day as well."
“We'll just have to see how fast the track is and judge our lap split off that. But the time we did in Mexico was a really special time. We went through three-kilometres quicker than we did at the Olympics.
"If we do better in Colombia that would be even more special but I don't know - watch this space..."
Laura Trott will ride the omnium having been denied gold last year by American Sarah Hammer. Trott won the event at Manchester’s UCI Track Cycling World Cup before Hammer celebrated gold in Mexico at round two.
"Last year was a tough year,” double Olympic champion Trott said. “It's the one after the Games and you get people who've missed out on the Games coming through and obviously Sarah (Hammer) didn't win there so she used that as her opportunity to show that she still has got the form and that she still is number one.
"This year I feel like we've put in all the training, been on a lot of Majorca camps so hopefully it pays off."
Elinor Barker and Joanna Rowsell will compete in the individual pursuit, Katie Archibald the points race and Dani King the scratch race.
In the men’s team pursuit, a young squad led by double Olympic champion Ed Clancy will compete for gold.
Clancy is joined by London Olympic gold medallist Steven Burke plus Sam Harrison and 20-year-olds Owain Doull and Jon Dibben, and the 28-year-old from Barnsley has been impressed with the attitude within the group.
"The team's gelling pretty well this time,” said Clancy. “We've spent plenty of time together in the hotels and a few Majorca camps so it's good to get to know them because to be honest I didn't know Owain Doull and Jon Dibben so well before this winter.
"There's good competition out there; Aussies, Danish, Kiwis, the usual lot - we're definitely going out there and aiming for a gold."
Great Britain won silver in Belarus with Clancy, Harrison, Andy Tennant and Burke.
Clancy will also race the omnium having won bronze in London and a world title back in 2010.
“It's a tough event but I'll give it my best”, said Clancy. "The team pursuit training does take up 85% of your time. We've done little bits of specific omnium training.
"The thing with individual pursuit is it's a more dependable medal so it makes sense that we put the majority of our effort into that one."
Simon Yates, having joined road outfit Orica-GreenEDGE, will not defend his points race title.
Owain Doull will ride the points race and individual pursuit with Sam Harrison in the scratch and Doull and Dibben the Madison.
Great Britain Cycling Team Performance Director Sir Dave Brailsford is confident that the young team for the 2014 UCI Track Cycling World Championships is in rude health with the Olympic Games in Rio only two years away.
"Well, it's the world championships at the end of the day and we know in cycling that the rainbow jerseys are very important,” said Brailsford. “The world championships are our biggest event on an annual basis and so we've got to take them very seriously.
"Looking at what does this worlds mean in the context of where it lies in terms of an Olympic cycle, it is an important period.
“It gives us an opportunity to assess ourselves in terms of where we're at; some of the training approaches; some of the line-ups and it guides us really.”