British Cycling Performance Director Sir Dave Brailsford says the UCI Track Cycling World Championships will begin a ‘changing of the guard’ within the Great Britain team.
Six riders will make their senior world championships debut in Minsk, Belarus with mainstays such as Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton absent, the former on a break from competitive cycling whilst Pendleton retired after London 2012.
The void has handed promising talents such as Becky James, Kian Emadi, Elinor Barker and Jon Dibben a valuable opening to compete on the world stage.
Olympic gold medallists Jason Kenny, Philip Hindes, Ed Clancy, Steve Burke, Dani King and Laura Trott have also been included in a squad which combines youth and experience, something Brailsford admits is ‘always exciting to see’.
“I think the collective mood is a good one. London has gone and this is the first step towards Rio,” Brailsford said.
“The first worlds after an Olympic Games is always where you start to dust yourself down again as a team and the focus starts to narrow, to thinking forward, you leave the joys of the past behind.
“It’s a worlds and it is a serious business - you’ve got to go to the worlds to compete to the best of your ability."
Sir Dave Brailsford
“These are the times, there is a changing of the guard if you like. Young, aspiring riders suddenly have their opportunity to become the leaders of the team and that’s what we are seeing in Becky James’ case and in other areas too.
“I think it is a time where new riders are coming through, from a general programmes perspective it is always nice to see young Academy riders stepping up to the senior team and a senior worlds for the first time.”
The competition from 20-24 February is the first major track meeting since the London Olympic Games, where Team GB won seven gold medals on the boards.
With less pressure being placed on the squad in comparison to the 12 months prior, Brailsford insists it is the right time for ‘our young riders to compete alongside the world’s best’.
“This worlds is always where you start to see this blend of youth and more experienced riders coming together and that’s always exciting to see,” Brailsford said.
“The time after the Olympic Games is a time to experiment, try new things, in many respects mix it up a little in terms of training and what riders are focusing on. I think it keeps an interest, it makes a difference and it makes a dynamic.
“Equally I think it is an opportunity to go and enjoy the worlds and see them as a massive opportunity because there is no threat at this worlds in terms of expectation.
But he added: “It’s a worlds and it is a serious business - you’ve got to go to the worlds to compete to the best of your ability and there are a lot of our riders who have trained very, very hard and are going to be in good shape.”