The year after an Olympic Games always provides opportunities for the next generation of riders to make an impact, with more established stars taking some time away from competition or in some cases choosing to retire altogether.
One rider who has really stepped up to fill the void left behind by the retirement of Joanna Rowsell Shand and Laura Kenny’s maternity leave has been Emily Nelson, and the Lichfield born rider is looking forward to another Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Cup on home soil after starting last winter’s successful track season with team pursuit gold in front of friends and family in Glasgow.
“It was really special to win in Glasgow last year in front of my family and a home crowd. It’s so hard to describe the atmosphere when you’ve got people cheering for you, but it really helps and I’m really looking forward to Manchester,” Nelson said.
“When you know that people are shouting for you, it just gives you that extra push.”
That success in Glasgow was the springboard for a season which would culminate in Nelson winning the first world championship medal of her career, taking home silver alongside Elinor Barker in the Madison in Hong Kong in April.
Despite her flurry of medals over the last 18 months, which also saw her win a silver and bronze medal at the UEC European Track Championships, Nelson is keeping her feet firmly on the ground, with her focus less on winning medals now, but on making sure she is in the best possible condition for the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020.
“I’d definitely say this has been my best season to date, but I don’t think it’s just about the medals,” said Nelson. “As a team pursuit, we’ve come so far. We shaved a whole four seconds off our time at the world championships compared to the time we recorded when we won in Glasgow.
“It shows the huge progress we’ve been making on our journey towards Tokyo, and the world cup is another step towards our goal of medalling there.”
With the Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Cup returning to Manchester for the first time since 2013, Nelson is excited to get stuck into racing, highlighting that between now and Tokyo the team need to take every opportunity they can to hone their race craft.
“You don’t get that many opportunities to race a team pursuit. You’ll probably get four or five a year, so if you think there’s three years until the Olympics, there’s around 15 team pursuit races left – which isn’t very much,” added Nelson.
“You get the best level of competition at the world cups, so you know you’re racing against a very high level, it’s a lot of fun.”
While the entire focus on Nelson’s training has been in the team pursuit, she is encouraged by the success she has enjoyed in individual events.
“We train for team pursuits, so they’re always the main goal,” said Nelson.
“But now that the Madison – an event I really enjoy – has been included in the Olympics, I’m super excited.
“We rode to a Madison silver off the back of team pursuit training at the world championships, we didn’t do any training for it. It’s the same for the omnium as well – we never train for that.
“We only train for the pursuit, but we’re medalling at world level in the other two events, so it’s encouraging that if we can train for those as well, we can potentially get three medals.”
On November 10-12, the Great Britain Cycling Team will take on the rest of the world at the Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Cup at the HSBC UK National Cycling Centre in Manchester.
You can get your tickets at www.trackworldcup.co.uk/tickets.