Published 26 May 2013
Words: Luke Webber
British Cycling's Olympic Mountain Bike coach Phil Dixon has talked of a great squad atmosphere following a winning weekend at the second world cup competition of 2013.
When Kenta Gallagher won Friday's sprint eliminator race in the Czech Republic, he was the second British Cycling Performance Programme athlete to do so in 14 months, following the example set by Annie Last.
For Gallagher the victory was emotionally overwhelming and one Dixon believes has not yet sunk in.
Analysing the effect that the win will have on Gallagher's season, Dixon revealed that confidence and motivation would be increased.
"After the race" Dixon continued "Kenta told me he wanted to stand on a podium again and the podium of a cross country world cup. He has that motivation now. The experience of racing in the final taught him about the mindset of lining up to win as well. He started that final wanting to win and ended it not satisfied to have the guarantee of the podium, but wanting the highest position.
"To have another athlete performing now gives Annie Last some company, but it will also build the spirit throughout the squad, continuing to build a good atmosphere."
Less than 24 hours later, Gallagher would have to race again, this time in the under-23 cross country. His race would always be compromised by competing the night previous and on the opening lap it was clear the reserves did not exist to chase down the leading group from a fourth-row gridding.
However, Gallagher stayed within the top thirty and turned in what would have been a peak performance in 2012 - without having raced the eliminator.
Meanwhile Olympic Academy Programme athlete Grant Ferguson again chased into the top ten - having been gridded 25th - and held on until the midway point. Despite losing ground to finish 16th, Dixon was happy with both rides and saw the way to progress as the world cup moves on in three weeks time.
"With Kenta earning points in the eliminator races and Grant earning points in the cross country, they will both have the chance to move up on the grid. That's important as it will allow them to save energy and with a bit of extra conditioning, allow them to race comfortably in the top ten from the start, rather than having to chase the race, essentially at a disadvantage from the gun."
For first year Olympic Academy Programme athlete Beth Crumpton, that same circumstance should not have been a problem, but after a bunch crash on the start loop, which left her last and chasing to find the back of the race, it was exactly what she faced.
That was in contrast to the race plan of starting fast and following the front of the race for as long as possible, but to Crumpton's credit she progressed through the pack over two laps.
In a performance Dixon described as "mature and encouraging" on the final two laps Crumpton could move into eighth position, after conceding nearly two minutes early in the race.
Annie Last also made positive progress in the senior women's competition, improving on her round one result of 25th, to finish 12th in Nove Mesto. Reflected in her consistent lap times and moving from 22nd on the opening loop, further improvements are expected as the season continues.
The team now move into another block of training, with the Olympic Development Programme (who did not race in Nove Mesto) conducting a training camp, while Academy and Podium Programme athletes using a combination of training and domestic racing before the next world cup in Val di Sole, Italy.
Here, the complete squad will travel to compete before the European Championships, with full coverage of both events on the British Cycling website.