2014 UCI Track Cycling World Championships coverage | Joanna Rowsell bio | Get into track cycling
Published: 18 February 2014
Written by: Eddie Allen
Video: Simon Powers
Joanna Rowsell is confident of her record-breaking squad’s team pursuit form ahead of their first world championships in the four-kilometre era.
The 25-year-old Olympic champion from London however warned that the world is catching up with the record-breaking Great Britain squad when she spoke to British Cycling a few weeks ahead of the event, which takes place in Cali, Colombia from 26 February to 2 March.
"We've got a lot of confidence going into the worlds because we won both the world cups in Manchester and Aguascalientes and we set world records four times,” said Rowsell, part of the Great Britain team pursuit squad including Laura Trott, Dani King, Elinor Barker and Katie Archibald that has made the discipline its own.
Rowsell, along with her teammates, has had an ideal build-up to the worlds, after Aguascalientes the squad went to a pre-Christmas training camp in Majorca followed by a competitive outing at Revolution, some more track work followed by another Majorca camp.
“Now we've just got the final few track sessions ahead of flying to Colombia so preparations have been really good,” said Rowsell. “The hard work's been done now so it's just the tapering to come and hoping that freshness comes out nicely for race day."
Rowsell is however wise to the dangers of complacency – an occupational hazard for the squad after dominating the four-kilometre variant of the discipline since its inception.
“We're very aware that the rest of the world are trying to catch up with us,” she said. “The Canadian team particularly have been quite impressive this season so hopefully they'll do a good time and push us because it's always good to have a good race. Australia always come out with a good ride on the day as well."
Since the inclusion of emerging talent Katie Archibald in the squad, Rowsell revealed that having five talented athletes has helped to keep internal competition for selection as sharp as international pressure.
"It's really good having five athletes going for the four-kilometre discipline because you always need a reserve,” Rowsell affirmed, “But also it's just good having an extra rider to push you and make you be the best you could possibly be.
"I think if there were four there might be room for complacency - I don't think any of us are ever complacent.
“I think that, as a nation, it's a real positive that we've got so many good girls wanting to be a part of that team."
Rowsell is also in the hunt for an individual pursuit ride following her gold medal in Manchester. With the event the only female pursuiting prize in this summer’s Commonwealth Games, it carries extra importance in 2014.
"I'd love to ride the individual pursuit at the worlds”, she said. “It's the day after the team pursuit which is what it was here in Manchester.
“I tend to go quite well the morning after the team pursuit - I think the adrenalin hasn't really gone so you just sort of get up the next morning and go and do another race without really thinking about it too much.
“My best result at a world championships in the individual pursuit has been fourth - I've only ever ridden it twice - I've come fourth and sixth so I'd like to improve on that fourth place.”
Yet Rowsell’s primary focus is and will likely always be the team event and following their performance in Aguascalientes, when the team recorded an incredible time of 2:16.552, expectation is high for Cali, which, like the Mexican venue, is at altitude.
But the Colombian velodrome’s characteristic open-sided design leaves riders prone to crosswinds and headwinds, making times less predictable and unlikely to rival those set in the second round of the world cup.
"I've never been to Cali so I don't know what to expect in terms of times on that track,” Rowsell said. “Apparently you can't use a front disc so goodness knows what to expect in terms of times.
“But it is at altitude, not as high as Mexico - but I think eight or nine-hundred metres. So it remains to be seen really when we get there.
“We'll just have to see how fast the track is and judge our lap split off that. But the time we did in Mexico was a really special time. We went through three-kilometres quicker than we did at the Olympics.
"If we do better in Colombia that would be even more special but I don't know - watch this space..."