A sixteen-strong contingent of Great Britain Cycling Team athletes will travel to Mexico to contest round two of the 2013/14 UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Aguascalientes on 5-7 December.
Following a robust opening performance in round one at the team’s base in Manchester, where the squad won eight medals including four golds, Great Britain sits at the top of the table on points.
Yet with the Manchester performance described by head coach Shane Sutton as ‘steady’, the team hope to build further strength in Mexico with the longer term goal of assuring a strong presence for the 2014 world championships, which take place in February in Cali, Colombia.
Jason Kenny, Phillip Hindes, Kian Emadi and Matt Crampton will represent Great Britain in the male sprint disciplines.
Manchester saw Great Britain’s team sprint squad take bronze against the Russian outfit, with Kenny/Hindes/Emadi dispatching qualifying duties, while 21-year-old Emadi was replaced by Crampton for the final. Sprint coach Iain Dyer will have similar options in Mexico, with the line-up yet to be decided.
Great Britain will hope to improve on Manchester’s mixed fortunes in the men’s sprint, which saw Matt Crampton make it to the bronze medal final while Kenny failed to qualify for the knockout rounds.
The keirin also offers room for improvement after a final in Manchester in which Kenny described himself as ‘just a passenger’; the 25-year-old from Bolton finishing just outside the medals in fourth.
The squad will take just two women sprinters to Mexico, with Vicky Williamson not travelling. Jess Varnish will therefore join double world champion Becky James in the team sprint, a partnership that last saw action together in the European track championships in Apeldoorn, where they claimed bronze in a time of 33.771.
James and Varnish are both likely to contest the sprint, in which James secured bronze, beating Olympic champion Anna Meares in two straight rides.
Varnish was knocked out in the 1/8 finals, beaten by eventual gold medallist Kristina Vogel of Germany, whose Manchester form James described as ‘unbelievable’; James also finishing runner up to the German in the keirin.
Great Britain’s imperious team pursuit squads return to action at altitude in Aguascalientes, setting up the prospect of further reduction of the rapidly-tumbling women’s team pursuit world record.
Katie Archibald will join the squad after impressive performances in Scottish Braveheart colours at Manchester, where she took silver in the scratch race and bronze in the individual pursuit.
Described as ‘an exciting prospect’ by Great Britain Cycling Team performance director Sir Dave Brailsford, Archibald is relishing the prospect of competing in Great Britain colours at world cup level, following an impressive debut with the squad in the European championships in October.
Commenting on the possibility of shaving further time off Great Britain’s 4:19.604 in the thin air of Aguascalientes (over 1800 metres above sea level) Archibald was confident and enthusiastic.
“I’ve never actually ridden at altitude,” admitted the 19-year-old Scot. “So I can’t give a report of what it’s going to be like but it’s nice to be optimistic so why not? Let’s go faster.”
Archibald will vie for a place in the team pursuit squad with Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell, Dani King and Elinor Barker. Archibald and King will both be likely options for the scratch race, with King taking seventh in the event in Manchester. Barker could again contend the points race.
Teammate Laura Trott will hope to pick up where she left off in the Manchester, where she secured another roof-raising gold medal in the omnium. Similarly confident will be Joanna Rowsell, who cruised to victory in the individual pursuit.
The men’s endurance squad sees a minor change of personnel from Manchester with Andy Tennant absent from the line-up. Great Britain will be well-served by 21-year-old Welshman Sam Harrison, who was at Manchester but didn’t race and will join Ed Clancy, Steven Burke, Jon Dibben and countryman Owain Doull.
At just 20 years old, Doull has slotted into the men’s endurance squad impressively, integral to the squad which won gold in Manchester against Australia in a time of 3:58.651. Doull also competed in the scratch race in Manchester, where he finished 11th.
Speaking recently to British Cycling, Doull said, “I’m just concentrating on doing my job in the team and hopefully I’ll do another good job in Mexico and carry on from there.
“As a team in the endurance camp we’ve been pretty successful so far in the Euros and then Manchester world cup so hopefully keep the ball rolling and do another good ride in Mexico.”
Jon Dibben began his world cup omnium campaign with a fifth place in Manchester, with Belgium’s Jasper de Buyst taking gold. The 19-year-old from Southampton will look to improve his performance in the bunch events to match his prowess in the omnium’s timed events.
Action begins in Mexico on Thursday 5 December and concludes on Saturday 7 December. Follow British Cycling website for reports and results throughout the contest.