Published: 30 October 2013
By Eddie Allen
Video: Simon Powers
Following a European track championships performance that was, by Jason Kenny’s own admission, disappointing, the multiple Olympic champion hinted that there may be more to come as the 2013/14 UCI Track Cycling World Cup begins in Manchester, promising that Great Britain’s team sprint squad are determined to fulfil their potential.
Kenny was candid in his assessment of the team’s performance in Apeldoorn, where the squad finished out of the medals, but was optimistic that there are seconds to be gained ahead of Manchester.
“I was a bit gutted to be honest. I thought we’d go better than we did,” admitted Kenny. “Everyone has worked really hard on it this summer; we needed to basically after the worlds, it showed that we were a bit off the pace.
“I don’t think we showed what we’re really capable of at the Europeans – I think we’re able to do a lot better than that. We’ve kind of sat down and had a meeting and hopefully we’ll go better at the Manchester world cup now.”
With every rider training to the limits of his ability it is in the technicalities of this exacting event that Kenny sees room for improvement.
“At the end of the day we’re all training as hard as we can,” Kenny said. “We can’t really worry about the physical aspect too much. We just have to make sure that we nail every ride technically.
“There was definitely some time in there for us that we can find; free time if you like just by getting it technically right. So that’s what we’ll be trying to do this weekend. Something a little bit different and hopefully that will pay off.”
Following the departure of Sir Chris Hoy at the end of the last season, Kenny has become the staple ingredient of the team sprint setup; the go-to man two, behind Philip Hindes, whose blistering starting pace helped ensure Great Britain won gold in the summer of 2012.
Man three has seen a number of riders vying for the berth, with young rider Kian Emadi and the established Matt Crampton the weapons of choice for Manchester.
“I think me and Phil (Hindes) are fairly settled in our positions in the team sprint,” said Kenny. “I think that Matt and Kian are really showing that we have the quality in the team to win a lot more races that we do, which is why it’s important that we tidy it up and make sure that we get it technically right all the time.
“Like I say, everyone is working really hard on this. We do have the quality to win a lot more races than we do and a lot more medals than we do. We just need to make sure that we go out and fulfil our potential.”
Kenny has a full programme of events over the three days of competition in Manchester, contesting the keirin and the sprint as well as the team event.
“I’m looking forward to the sprint and the keirin to be honest,” said Kenny. “I don’t really mind one of the other. Whatever is going the best I enjoy.
“It’s nice to race in the world champ’s skin suit,” added Kenny, alluding to the keirin world title he won in Minsk. Kenny was however, out of the medals in the sprint in Minsk and with a bronze in the European championships, the rider was candid about his pre-Manchester form:
“I feel like I’m going okay. I thought I was going better than I showed at the Europeans. I know a scraped a medal but at qualifying I was a quarter of a second off the pace, which is a country mile.”
It is hoped that the higher class of competition and the support of the home crowd will help Kenny to step up and revive the form that saw him memorably beat Gregory Bauge in the 2012 Olympic games.
“Hopefully it will help me,” smiled Kenny. “At the end of the day I just try my best all the time so hopefully – we’ll just have to wait and see.”
The men’s team sprint takes place on Friday 1 November, with the keirin following on Saturday then the sprint on Sunday.