Published: 18 April 2012
Report: Scott Hobro
Great Britain men’s endurance coach Dan Hunt has admitted that the London Olympics could witness a sub three minutes and fifty seconds time in the men’s team pursuit, such is the quality of the competition.
Celebrating becoming world champions in Melbourne
Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Peter Kennaugh and Steven Burke rode to a world record of 3:53.295 to claim gold in the track world championships in Melbourne early in April, beating Australia by less than two-tenths of a second. The time was over three seconds faster than the 3:56.330 the quartet had recorded in the gold medal ride of the London Track World Cup just seven week earlier.
With less than four months until Olympic track cycling begins at the London Velodrome, it is inevitable the key medal contenders will up the ante ahead of the showpiece event. Hunt, who was understandably pleased with his group’s efforts Down Under, doesn’t foresee major changes in plans but expects a faster field in August.
"In order to win the Olympics you’re going to have to go close to 3:50. That is where the big teams are taking it."
Coach Dan Hunt
“That’s what we set out to achieve,” Hunt responded when asked whether the 3:50 time could be breached. “It sounds easy saying that but within the Olympic plan the target at Melbourne was a 3:55 qualifier and a 3:53 final and we went 3:54 in the qualifier and 3:53 in the final.
“Realistically we were on for a 3:52 until the last lap when the wheels fell off a bit so we’re on track and we are where we hoped to be. In order to win the Olympics you’re going to have to go close to 3:50. That is where the big teams are taking it.”
In any other year the world championship title would represent the pinnacle of the track season but Hunt conceded that in an Olympic year the competition represents ‘a stepping stone’ to the summer. From the group of five who competed over the qualifying and final rides in Melbourne, the team pursuit world championship represented a first senior rainbow jersey for three riders – Andy Tennant, Peter Kennaugh and Steven Burke. Acknowledging the achievement whilst keeping the riders grounded over the coming training block is the equilibrium Hunt is aiming for.
“It’s always the same in an Olympic year,” Hunt said. “You want to win the worlds - you go and win the worlds and break a world record but you know it’s still just a stepping stone to the bigger thing. That said, you have to recognise it for what it is. It’s a world title – there was a first world title for four of the six lads [including Ben Swift’s scratch race title] and a world record.
“There are a lot of positives there, there’s enough coming up to keep them focused. The mentality of this next block is not ‘you're world champions, you're world record holders’. We’ve got to act and behave as if we came fifth or sixth and that we didn’t have the greatest championship and we need to move forward with that pace and aggression.
“We’ve got our race to ride. We’ve got a plan in place and we’re going to stick to the plan. We’re not going to change too much; we’re not going to panic.”
The next block for the riders will see a return to the road. Team Sky’s Kennaugh, Thomas and Swift will travel to the Giro d’Italia whilst Rapha Condor Sharp’s Clancy and Tennant, along with Burke (Sigma Sport Specialized) will focus on a mixture of domestic events including the Premier Calendar.