Great Britain’s Jess Varnish is relishing the opportunity to spend more time focusing on individual track events including the sprint and keirin.
The 21-year-old, who will make her second world cup appearance of the season this weekend at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow, was entirely dedicated to the standing lap in the women’s team sprint ahead of the Olympic Games - which ended in disqualification with Victoria Pendleton.
With Pendleton’s retirement, Varnish will now pair with Becky James in the team effort. The duo were European under 23 team sprint champions in 2011 and have also competed together at the 2011 Manchester world cup as well as October’s Cali world cup, winning gold.
The British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme athlete can now also commit parts of her training programme to the keirin, sprint and 500m time-trial – of which the first two are Olympic disciplines.
“I was really excited about getting back into training, not just with what happened in the Olympics,” Varnish said.
“Now I’ve got the opportunity to broaden out and focus on other things instead of just focusing on man one which doesn’t really help in the individual events. I think I had five weeks off in total, which I really needed. I’d not really had a proper break since March the year before so that was really important and that was the time to do it.
“The more bike time I get in different events, it’s more experience which is great and it’s what I need to do. I think the atmosphere in the velodrome is going to be amazing. It’s really nice to be back competing on our home turf. I think everyone in the team is really excited about that.”
A strenuous schedule awaits Varnish in Scotland - the 500m time-trial and team sprint on Friday, the individual sprint on Saturday and the keirin on Sunday, presenting an opening to put forward her case for an Olympic spot in Pendleton’s absence.
Varnish herself has yet to place priority on any individual event, preferring to feel her way into the season which falls at the start of the Rio Olympic cycle and culminates in February’s track world championships in Minsk, Belarus.
“I got to the London Olympics by focusing on just that one lap but now it’s just about broadening out and being able to focus on them and put more of my time into those,” Varnish commented. “In the individual events you don’t really gain a lot from being man one, you need to be a bit more flexible than that.
“I just want to keep my eyes open and try everything out at the moment. Becky and I have both got the opportunity to do both events at the moment which is really good in the world cups and the worlds so that’s really exciting.”
Varnish’s partner James will also compete across the individual sprint events having won national titles in the sprint, keirin, team sprint and 500m time-trial in Varnish’s absence at the British Track Championships.
The 20-year-old is savouring her current run in the team and linking up with Varnish, the two having come through the British Cycling Olympic Programme together.
“Jess and I have ridden together for years and we’ve had a few good team sprints together and I’m just looking forward to getting up and racing with her,” James said.
“I was always hoping it would be my chance to step in and start racing in the world cups and we don’t get much racing throughout the year, so after the track nationals we went to the Cali world cup and then after that got told we were doing Glasgow.
“Training has been going really well, since July I have had a clear consistent run of training and I’ve had a few good races in with national championships and Cali world cup so it’s been a really good block for me. I’m looking forward to racing here in Glasgow.”