Great Britain’s Ed Clancy admits he is uncertain of what to expect as he prepares for his team sprint debut at the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Glasgow.
The two-time Olympic gold medallist in the team pursuit is making the switch over to the event to compete alongside Philip Hindes and Jason Kenny, replacing Sir Chris Hoy at man three from the line-up which succeeded in London.
Clancy, a British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme athlete, has been training with the pair in Manchester ahead of the world cup round from the 16-18 November with aspirations of also competing in the discipline at next year’s UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Minsk, Belarus.
“Going into new territory, I don’t know what to expect,” Clancy admitted. “The big thing is trying to get on the wheel at the start, not so much the first quarter but the second and third quarter of the first lap. It’s going to be quite interesting to see whether I can match those boys for acceleration when they get going.
“In terms of how fast I’m going to go on my last lap I’ve got no idea of what I’m going to be able to do. Whether getting on at the start will take too much out of me, I guess I’ve got nothing to lose and we’ll soon find out.
“Going into new territory, I don’t know what to expect. It’s going to be quite interesting to see whether I can match those boys for acceleration when they get going."
“I think plan A is that the team sprint will go well in Glasgow and hopefully I’ll ride the team sprint at the worlds as well as the kilo just as a little sort of side project; a bit of a break from the team pursuit. I’ve nothing against it, I love riding team pursuit but sometimes a change is as good as a break, that’s the idea behind it.”
In his new role Clancy will go from riding 4km in the four-man team pursuit to 750m in the three-man team sprint but he has demonstrated his potential over shorter distances in the past.
In the final event of the omnium at the London Games, the 1km time-trial, he recorded a time of 1.00.981 which earned him a bronze and would have been quick enough to win the world championship title in 2006, 2007 and 2008 as well as bronze in the kilo event at Athens 2004.
Despite that, the 27-year-old concedes that keeping up with his sprint-orientated counterparts will provide a stern task though he is unperturbed at the prospect facing him at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.
“I think Phil and Jason are the two more sprint based guys, they’ll come up a lot more in the taper perhaps more so than I will, again that will move it on a level when trying to get onto the start,” Clancy said.
“So yeah we are going into the unknown but what is the worst that could happen? I get dropped and ride for three laps on my own, I’ll never do team sprint again and go back to the team pursuit.
“As much as I’d like to stay on there and do a good last lap and open up another doorway, another option for someone to look at in the future, I wasn’t a team sprinter before this little journey, there’s no worst case scenarios really.”
If he was to impress in Scotland, the four-time world champion would be faced with a choice of whether to continue in the role or revert back to the more familiar endurance events.
With his absence in Glasgow - alongside fellow London winners Geraint Thomas and Pete Kennaugh - a blend of experience and British Cycling Olympic Academy Programme riders will be given the opportunity to make an impact, though Clancy is keeping his options open should the team sprint become a long-term option.
“If it goes really well then you have to start thinking is this what I want to do?” Clancy said.
“Do I want to go back to the team pursuit because we know we can do well at that? Or can we try and do both? And if so will that fit in with the road racing and so on with my team there? But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there, at the moment it’s not even an option - if it goes really well it will be an option but until then I’ll just try and do my best and open a few doors.”
Sam Harrison, Jon Dibben, Owain Doull and Simon Yates – all part of British Cycling’s Olympic Academy Programme – are in contention for the team pursuit spots in Glasgow and Clancy believes there is plenty of competition coming through the ranks.
“Sam Harrison looks like he’s stepped up a good level or two over the road season this summer so he’s looking pretty promising,” Clancy evaluated.
“Dibben and Doull, they are big strong boys - it’s exciting to see them and they are already going pretty good and we’ll have to see what they do. They’ve got the best part of four years. They could be pretty special come then and I could be without a place in the team pursuit.”