With the final round of the 2011/12 UCI Track Cycling World Cup coming up on 17 February, we spoke to triple world champion and Olympic silver medallist Wendy Houvenaghel about her form, the team and the prospect of competing on the London boards for the very first time.
“We’re very much looking forward to competing there in a month’s time. We’ll endeavour to get used to the track as much as possible in the timeframe we have left”, said Houvenaghel, who, though renowned for her calm and methodical approach to competition, was visibly excited about the coming season. “The London World Cup will be a great learning opportunity to get to know the track a bit better,” she added.
The women’s endurance team; Dani King, Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell and Houvenaghel are due to fly out to Majorca for an endurance training block on the roads – “getting the miles in” as Wendy put it. “More recently we’ve been on the track focussing on our technical skills - just working through the different demands of the event to produce a good performance in February.”
Training on the roads of the Balearic island will put a final keen edge on Wendy and the team’s form. When asked about her current form ahead of London, Houvenaghel was, as ever, positive and upbeat. “So far so good. I’m on track. I’m where I need to be right at the moment. The team is in good shape for this time of the year.”
And the team isn’t just on form from a physical point of view. We asked Wendy what the mood was like in the squad with such a potentially daunting year ahead. “It’s really good. We’re all very motivated” replied Wendy with a smile. “It’s a very positive environment to be working in - there’s an element of healthy competition within the group and we’re getting along really well together.”
And that healthy intra-squad competition makes coach Paul Manning’s selection decisions extra tough. However, Houvenaghel boiled down the process with typical pragmatism and outlined how she as a rider mentally coped with selection. “All we can really do as athletes is concentrate on being the best we can be at a given time” said Houvenaghel. “Ultimately the team management will decide on who will ride in what rounds. It will be a combination of the fastest three that will make the line-up. The clock never lies.”