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Things will only get better ahead of Olympics - Brailsford

Things will only get better ahead of Olympics - Brailsford

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Dave Brailsford anticipates Great Britain's track team will only improve before the Olympic Games in London.

After a Track Cycling World Championships in which Britain won half of the gold medals on offer in Olympic events, the British Cycling performance director believes his team are on course for a successful performance in August.

"We've got more to come," said Brailsford, who described the haul of seven out of 10 Olympic titles on offer in Beijing in 2008 as a "quirk". "There's no reason why we can't step up again, but then again everybody else is going to be improve. Form's going to decide what happens at the Olympics now."

Of the 10 Olympic events on the World Championships programme in Melbourne, Britain won five - both team pursuits, Victoria Pendleton in the women's sprint, Laura Trott in the omnium and Sir Chris Hoy in the keirin - with Australia taking three titles and France and Germany one apiece.


"There's no reason why we can't step up again, but then again everybody else is going to be improve. Form's going to decide what happens at the Olympics now."

Dave Brailsford


There was success and now there are selection headaches aplenty, not least in the men's sprint, where Brailsford is among those who must choose between the Olympic champion and silver medal winner from 2008 due to regulations permitting only one entry per nation per event.

Jason Kenny, runner-up in Beijing, beat Hoy in the semi-final in Melbourne, but the Scot has won three of the five meetings between the pair since September. The decision does not need to be made until noon on August 3, the day before the competition begins, but Hoy would prefer to know sooner if he is to be denied the opportunity to defend one of his Olympic titles.

Brailsford said: "The dilemma is that if you select now the riders know what they are doing and can train a little bit more specifically. The downside is that in 16 weeks anyone's form might not to be the same.

"That is the conundrum: late for form, but early for clarity of purpose."

Brailsford has a time scale and method in mind but would not reveal his strategy for selection. Reputations and sentiment will not come into it, though. "Selecting that team is very difficult," Brailsford added. "It doesn't matter what you've done in the past - being Sir Chris Hoy doesn't give you a tenth (of a second). Our job is to pick the fastest guy."

Hoy, who is almost certain to claim the keirin place after taking his fourth world title in the event, and Kenny appear set to be joined in the three-man team sprint by specialist starter Philip Hindes. The 19-year-old made an error which resulted in a disqualification in Melbourne, but Brailsford sees the potential for an event which has proved troublesome for Britain since the retirement of Jamie Staff.

He added: "I can't see him (Hindes) going any slower, only faster. It certainly gives us more optimism than not so long ago."

There are choices to be made in the team pursuit squads, too, even though both returned with the world title and world record. Brailsford said: "We have seen the best two team pursuits, male and female, of all time. It's a massive step forward."

Six are currently in contention for the men - Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Peter Kennaugh, Andy Tennant, Steven Burke and Ben Swift. Swift was omitted from the squad for the event in Melbourne, but responded by winning medals in three non-Olympic events, including gold in the scratch race.

If Swift misses out, he could yet support Mark Cavendish's bid for road race glory. "It will be narrowed down but it doesn't need to be too narrow," said Brailsford, who confirmed Team Sky riders Thomas, Kennaugh and Swift will continue preparations by riding May's Giro d'Italia.

"You want to keep the competition and keep them hungry."

Clancy is set to ride in the six-discipline omnium, after narrowly being edged out of world medal contention, while Laura Trott is poised to compete in the corresponding women's event after taking her first individual world title.

The women's line-ups appear all-but confirmed, with four in contention in the team pursuit - Trott joined by fellow world champions Dani King and Joanna Rowsell, with Wendy Houvenaghel also involved despite not riding in the event in Melbourne.

Jess Varnish is set to ride in the two-woman team sprint with Pendleton, who is also poised to compete in the sprint and keirin as she bids to leave the sport on a high. Pendleton is set to retire after London, having taken her tally of world titles to nine and reached at least the sprint semi-finals in every year for a decade. She has six sprint titles.

"When she switches on she has got a fight inside her and a streak of determination that puts her among the greats," Brailsford said.


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