Published:20 August 2012
Words: Simon Powers
Photography: Luke Webber
British Cycling Olympic Development Programme coaches Matt Winston and Jon Norfolk have highlighted the impressive progress of the team ahead of the Junior World Track Championships in New Zealand, alluding to the fact that even after the strong performances at the European Championships in July, there is definitely more to come ahead of the first day’s racing on 22 August.
A strong Great Britain team, includes some of the riders seen at the under-23 and junior European Championships back in July. Matt Rotherham will compete as the sole British sprinter and will ride the sprint, keirin and kilometre time trial. Rotherham, who secured the gold medal and European title in the kilo, as well as a silver in the sprint, has clearly given selectors confidence in his abilities at what can been seen as another major step in his already impressive track career.
ODP sprint coach, Jon Norfolk commented:
“We’re taking Matt Rotherham who is a second year junior, he performed really well at the Euros but there is more potential in there than he expressed in Portugal. We got some key information from the Euros, things we needed to put right at this stage in his career. It is important that he can go to New Zealand and re-apply the lessons learned. We didn’t select our first year sprinter, Danielle Khan, feeling she can get as much - if not more - out of the junior British Championships this summer. This also gives us the opportunity to concentrate fully on Matt and try and get the best out of him.”
The endurance events will also see some newly crowned European champions compete. Elinor Barker and Amy Roberts, who are both European Champions in the team pursuit will ride in the team pursuit. Barker will also compete in the individual pursuit and the omnium. The squad also see the debut of British born, Australian-based rider Hayley Jones, who was part of the Queensland team pursuit squad who won the under-19 women’s gold medal in the 2012 Australian Track Championships in January. With a winning time of 3:31.632 she should definitely be a strong addition to the already impressive team.
ODP endurance coach Matt Winston said:
“It will be interesting how the team event goes seeing as they will only spend four days together prior to the race. Hayley came over on a camp in April, so she has briefly ridden with the girls before and as a first year Junior this will be a great development opportunity leading up to the junior worlds in Glasgow next year.”
There will also be one men’s endurance rider; Jon Dibben. Bronze medallist in both the individual pursuit as well as the omnium at the European Championships, Dibben will concentrate on the multi-event discipline but will also ride the individual pursuit whilst in New Zealand. Having clocked 1:03.885 in the kilometre time trial at the omnium in the European championships, he is likely to be a strong contender for a place on the podium.
Matt Winston summarised:
“We are taking Jon off the back of the rides he did in the European Championships in July. The target for him will be the omnium in order to give him a broad range of skills he will need if he goes forward to the Olympic Academy Programme. He will then ride the individual pursuit on the last day off the back of the omnium and see what we can do. Going off the ride he did for the Euros, he could definitely be in contention for the medal there.”
Describing the level of competition in New Zealand, Jon Norfolk spoke of a limited but quality field and athletes also facing the challenge of extended travel.
“Because of the location, there are a couple of countries that won’t be going, I think a few of the European teams won’t be there. There are always the Australians and the New Zealand team though. It may well be a fresh set of riders from Euros but the Australians always come out fighting and are always strong with that age group.
“We tried to encourage the team in Portugal to deal with travel and competing at a new track, this is going to be even more exaggerated with New Zealand. There will be much more to deal with for them with long haul travel and multiple time zones. I think it is about as far as you can travel from here track-wise.”
LESSONS FROM PORTUGAL
After a successful event for Great Britain in the under-23/junior European Track Championships, there has been a full reassessment of tactics both on and off the boards in order to take riders to the next step of competing on a world level, as Norfolk explains.
“I think some of the riders got carried away with the event a little bit. They focused on the outcome rather than the process a bit too much, changing the way they made decisions and handled things and I think ultimately, it changed the way that some of them rode.
“We have looked at things such as how to focus on their race and how to dial out all the other distractions they are met with at such a competition. These are skills that any aspiring rider will need with them all the way up the food chain to the Olympic Games in the future. Be it a first round of the sprint at the nationals or the Olympic final, you need to concentrate on your ride and not let the magnitude of the event become distraction. “
Matt Winston added the changes made looking ahead to the omnium:
“We have also looked at the specific events. Especially for the men as we only have one endurance rider coming with us. Certainly with Jon, if we can just get that first day right, we will be on for a good result there. The second day in the omnium, with Jon’s capabilities in both the individual pursuit and the kilo, it speaks for itself really.”
“I would love to take more riders out there, it would be nice to have a women’s and men’s team sprint but with the numbers coming into ODP over the last few years, this wasn’t really an option so we are dealing with single riders for this one. We are going to revisit the development pathway for young sprinters as these sorts of opportunities are great and can set you up in a career if you perform at this level. I would love to have team sprints in as this forms the selection for the world cups and world championships to the point where if you are not in the team sprint, the likelihood is that you aren’t going to go.”
Both Winston and Norfolk summarised in emphasising what a great experience an event such as this is for the development of talented young riders.
“The Olympics will have helped inspire a lot of these riders. Seeing someone such a Jason Kenny, who has progressed through Talent Team, ODP, Academy and then on to the Podium Programme, win two Olympic golds is hugely inspiring. It will hopefully emphasise that such possibilities aren’t as far away as they once thought. Jason went from ODP to being an Olympic champion in Beijing in four years so, if you work hard, it’s definitely doable.”