Location: London Olympic Velodrome
Event: 16-19 February 2012
Report: Scott Hobro
British Cycling Performance Director Dave Brailsford praised Great Britain’s riders after a remarkable four days of action at the Olympic Velodrome for the London Track World Cup.
World records in both the women’s team sprint and pursuit events brought the capacity crowd to its feet on Friday evening before Sir Chris Hoy delighted the fans with a remarkable late surge to take keirin gold on Saturday, hitting a career high of 78kph as he went round the outside late on to snatch victory. The Scotsman continued to impress on Sunday, disposing of France’s Gregory Bauge in the quarter-finals on his way to sprint gold, laying down a firm marker to a world class field.
In addition, there was gold for Joanna Rowsell in the individual pursuit and silver for the men’s team pursuit whilst it would be bronze for both Laura Trott in the women’s omnium and the trio of Ross Edgar, Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy in the men’s team sprint. The tally placed Great Britain at the top of the medal standings for the World Cup round, which doubled as an Olympic test event.
"It has been very positive from a performance point of view - we are definitely moving forward. We put a long hard winter of training in and we met the night before the World Cup and thanked the riders for the hard work they have done over the winter"
Reflecting on the result, Great Britain’s first competitive outing on the London track, Brailsford was understandably optimistic. “It has been very positive from a performance point of view - we are definitely moving forward. We put a long hard winter of training in and we met the night before the World Cup and thanked the riders for the hard work they have done over the winter but you could see the green shoots of spring appearing in training, little signs that everything was moving forward again.
“I think that the performances here have demonstrated that and I’d say that this has been the best performance across the board for a couple of years and it shows we are building momentum and we’re heading in the right direction, hopefully we’ve got our timing right.
An already ferocious atmosphere in the sold out Olympic Velodrome was only heightened with a Great Britain presence on the boards as riders were astounded and appreciative of the home support’s noise and backing, a valuable experience which will become a familiarity in the summer.
“It’s a big lesson for all these riders to ride with this level of noise and support, if you allow it to get the better of you will end up coming out too hard and pace the race wrong,” Brailsford said. “Saying that the crowd will help you later on to dig in. For the sprinters where it is more of an adrenaline based event, it’s fantastic. It’s very difficult to quantify the effect of a home velodrome and a home crowd but I think we have seen some of it this weekend, it does make a difference.”
Asked about the highlight events from the weekend, Brailsford commented: “The team pursuit - where they were at the Europeans wasn’t the best performance but they have worked their socks off over the winter. You can only control what you can control but if you take our performance and where it was then and where it is now there have been big strides and they are going to continue to get better.
“With the women’s team sprint we have been saying for a number of years that when Jess gets to the point where she can get to 18.8, 18.7 [at man one], we’re going to be in the mix. It’s alright having the theory but when it happens in practice it’s a massive confidence boost.
“The women’s team pursuit held their own again and I think the other big plus is Laura Trott. The way she has ridden all weekend is phenomenal. She’s only going to get better. At the other end of the spectrum you have Chris Hoy who is coming into the form of his life. If he continues to build on where he is now he is going to be right in the mix and that’s all you can ask for.”
The track world championships in Melbourne from the 4-8 April represents the next and final competitive event ahead of the London Olympics where Great Britain will no doubt need to increase the stakes again as the intensity towards this summer’s Games builds.
“We are a lot closer in some events than we thought, we are further ahead than we thought we would be so it’s pleasing. When your confidence levels go up, it put a different perspective in training - rather than chasing something it becomes a positive experience all around. If we can build on this positive momentum it should be good fun,” Brailsford added.