Becky James is looking forward to sporting her rainbow jerseys at the Under 23 European Track Championships in her first competitive event since becoming a double world champion.
The 21-year-old has travelled to Portugal for the meeting which takes place from 9-14 July and will compete in the sprint, keirin, team sprint and 500 metre time trial in Anadia.
After a break from competition the sprint and keirin world champion is ready to build some early season form and earn qualification points for the winter’s UCI Track Cycling World Cup.
“It’s quite exciting, the worlds feels like ages ago now and I’ve been doing a lot of training since then,” said James, who won her titles in February at the Minsk Arena in Belarus.
“I’ve got to go and do this competition to get points to ride in the world cups. It’s very early in the season for me so it’s about just getting there and getting a bit of racing in and getting the points ready for the world cups ahead of the winter.”
Despite her world title-winning performances, which witnessed her become the first Briton to win four medals in one world championships, James admits she is yet to fully come to terms with her achievements.
“I think it will sink in a little bit wearing the rainbow bands but I’m really excited about it,” said James, who also won bronze in the team sprint and 500 metre time trial in Belarus.
And when asked if the titles would affect her approach to training and competition she added: “Not at all. For a few weeks after it was nice to be able to enjoy it but as soon as you are back into training you don’t think about it whatsoever.
“It will be my target to go and get them again next year but you don’t think about it when you’re training, you forget everything you’ve won and crack on with training then.”
James has a productive history in the European championships at both junior and under 23 level. Three medals including golds in the sprint and 500 metre time trial as a junior in 2009 were followed by victory in the under 23 sprint in 2010.
“I’d normally have a full taper going into the Europeans. I’ve had a few weeks of training but I’ve been suffering from illness and doing a few road miles.
"I think it will sink in a little bit wearing the rainbow bands but I’m really excited about it."
Four more medals came across the 2011 and 2012 events but on the back of an arduous if rewarding 2012-13 campaign, the competition is taking on an alternative function in James’ programme.
“In the past it has been different for me, it has been a major target to go and win the European champs. It’s a completely different approach from what I’d normally take,” James said.
“I’m going there just to get some racing in and I’ve got no pressure, just go there and do my best like I always do when I’m racing.”
As well as facing individual challenges, James will pair up with Victoria Williamson in the team sprint. The duo will continue a partnership which most recently won bronze at the world championships but goes as far back as 2010 when the duo won under 23 European silver in Saint Petersburg.
“She’s made massive progress,” James said of her 19-year-old teammate.
“She moved up (to the British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme) 12 months ago so it's impressive to see how much progress she has made since we raced in the Europeans last year when she hadn’t even moved up from home.
“The place she is now when she is racing shows the massive gains you get when you get the full time training and coaching support. She has done amazing doing what she did at worlds, she’s just been progressing ever since.”