Great Britain Cycling Team begin their 2015 track season in earnest on 14 October when they travel to Grenchen, Switzerland for the UEC European Track Championships.
Britain’s reigning European team pursuit squads will hope to retain their titles along with individual winners Andy Tennant, Laura Trott and Katie Archibald, amid a large squad replete with Olympic, world and British champions.
The championships, which take place from 14-18 October, mark the start of a massive year for the team, building through the UCI Track Cycling World Cup, UCI Track Cycling World Championships and ultimately to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
The quartet of Ed Clancy, Owain Doull, Andy Tennant and Jon Dibben clinched the European title a year ago in the French territory of Guadeloupe but a different squad will contest the title this year, with Clancy absent due to a back injury.
Chief amongst the endurance line-up is undoubtedly Sir Bradley Wiggins, who despite his extensive Olympic and world championships palmares on road and track, will make his senior European Track Championships debut in Grenchen.
With the team pursuit line-up yet to be finalised, coaches will have a tough choice. Former Olympic, world and European team pursuit champion Steven Burke is also on the roster along with three-quarters of the newly-crowned European under-23 team pursuit team, in the form of Chris Latham, Ollie Wood and Matt Gibson.
The individual events saw success for Andy Tennant and Jon Dibben a year ago, Tennant claiming individual pursuit gold while Dibben took silver in the omnium. And with British points race champion Ollie Wood and European under-23 scratch champion Gibson in the mix, the team certainly has options in the bunch events.
Ciara Horne made her international track debut for Great Britain in Guadeloupe, and alongside Laura Trott, Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker and Joanna Rowsell (now Rowsell Shand), clinched the European team pursuit title.
The squad for Grenchen is a carbon copy of last year’s, with all riders demonstrating excellent form at the British championships, Trott taking individual pursuit, scratch and points titles, while Horne, Archibald and Rowsell Shand did likewise in the team event.
Archibald did the double in Guadeloupe, winning the individual pursuit competition but will face tough competition from stablemate Trott if Manchester form is anything to go by.
Callum Skinner was Great Britain’s only sprint medallist in the 2014 European championships, winning gold in the kilometre time trial. But with Skinner absent due to illness, British male sprint hopes are in the hands of Philip Hindes, Jason Kenny, Lewis Oliva and Matt Crampton.
Hindes, Kenny and Crampton recently rode to the British title in the team sprint and will hope to repeat that success on the European stage, Britain having missed out on the European team sprint podium since Crampton, Skinner and Oliva took bronze in 2012 in Lithuania.
Oliva hits the championships in fine form, having taken the British title in the individual sprint. 2011 world and 2012 Olympic sprint champion Kenny took the kilometre time trial title in Manchester while Crampton took the British keirin crown, the 29-year old having won the European title back in 2011.
In terms of form, standout women’s sprinter for Great Britain is currently Katy Marchant, the 22-year-old having dominated the British championships with gold in the sprint, team sprint, keirin and 500-metre time trial.
Marchant will be joined by Jess Varnish, with whom she won her British team title. Varnish will likely ride man-one in the team sprint, a role in which she has seen European glory before, having won the title in 2011 with Victoria Pendleton.
Completing the women’s sprint line-up is Victoria Williamson, the Norfolk-born rider coming off the back of two silver medals at the British championships in the team sprint and 500-metre time trial.
The championships have a surprisingly short history, having only existed since 2010 as a senior event. The junior and under-23 championships have a longer back story but the first senior event took place in Poland, with the Netherlands, Lithuania and France having hosted the event since.
Great Britain Cycling Team has a superb record at the European track championships, topping the all-time medal table with 19 gold, five silver and seven bronze medals, with Germany its closest competitor.
The team also topped the medal table in 2014, winning six gold, one silver and one bronze medal in Guadeloupe.
The competition will be the first major international event to use the state-of-the-art Velodrome Suisse in Grenchen.
Home of the Swiss cycling federation, construction on the multi-sport, multi-use complex began in April 2012 and the venue opened in June 2013. September 2014 saw Jens Voigt put Velodrome Suisse on the map, the legendary German rider becoming the first man to claim the new unified UCI hour record on its boards, a title now in the hands of Sir Bradley Wiggins.
The track is a 250-metre Olympic-standard design, constructed from Siberian spruce with 46-degree, seven-metre high banking.
Wednesday 14 October
Women’s team pursuit qualification, men’s team pursuit qualification.
Thursday 15 October
Women’s team pursuit, men’s team pursuit, women’s team sprint, men’s team sprint, men’s scratch race, women’s points race.
Friday 16 October
Women’s sprint, men’s sprint, men’s omnium (events 1-3), women’s scratch, men’s points.
Saturday 17 October
Women’s omnium (events 1-3), men’s individual pursuit, men’s omnium (events 4-6), women’s 500m TT, men’s kilometre TT.
Sunday 18 October
Women’s keirin, men’s keirin, women’s omnium (events 4-6), women’s individual pursuit, men’s Madison.
How to follow the racing
British Cycling will be keeping you up to date with live blogging throughout the event. Find out how to follow the event online and on TV.