Great Britain sprinter Becky James believes she is entering this year’s track world championships on the back of the finest training block she has enjoyed in her career.
The British sprint, team sprint, 500m time-trial and keirin champion had endured a frustrating run of illnesses and injuries stemming from her days as a junior.
But since a removed appendix in February last year solved the stomach pains James had been suffering from when racing, the 21-year-old has been reaping the benefits of a full programme of training and competition ahead of her third world championships in Minsk, Belarus from 20-24 February.
At the 2012 British Track Championships the Welshwoman dominated with four title wins, following up the accolades with team sprint triumphs in the colours of Great Britain with Jess Varnish in both the Cali and Glasgow UCI Track Cycling World Cup rounds.
“It’s probably the best year I could have possible had for training,” James, from Abergavenny, said.
“It’s the most consistent block of training I have ever had in my career and I’m getting the benefits of that now and I can see that coming through. In the past I have had illnesses and injuries. This year everything has gone to plan and hopefully it will stay that way until the worlds now, I’m sure it will.
“You can see the improvements compared to the past. You take a step down when you get injured or once you’re ill and then you’ve got to work your way back up.
“Since I had my appendix out, I’ve just been training every since. I’ve had a really good year of training hard and it’s coming together,” added James, who is on the British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme.
The retirement of Victoria Pendleton now places the 2009 world junior sprint and keirin champion, who was a reserve for Team GB at the London Olympics, as British Cycling’s second oldest female sprinter behind Varnish.
“Everyone has a time in their mind that they want to achieve when they are racing but I am going to keep that to myself.”
It means this year’s championships will take on extra significance for James and will be her most important to date, having appeared at Ballerup, Denmark in 2010 and Apeldoorn, Netherlands in 2011.
“It’s completely different compared to past worlds,” James affirmed. “We’ve had Chris [Hoy] and Vicky and all the older part of the team, now it’s like the new generation is coming through - all the younger riders.
“This is my big focus, just the worlds then we’ve got six months until anything else major is on. This is my first year where I have been having getting results in world cups as well.
“I’ve been getting on the podium in the sprint and with Jess [Varnish] in the team sprint and I have been getting better than the top eight which is a massive thing for me.
“This is my first year stepping up to that sort of level and we will see how it goes.”
James is expected to compete in the sprint, team sprint, keirin and 500m time-trial as Academy rider Victoria Williamson replaces Jess Varnish in the team sprint, the latter out with a back injury.
Through her previous two expeditions to world championships James has steadily enhanced her times, a pattern that has continued in the 2012/13 campaign and one she will look to further later this month.
“Everyone has a time in their mind that they want to achieve when they are racing but I am going to keep that to myself,” James said.
“Once I start freshening up and doing less road hopefully it will all come together nicely then.”