The UCI Junior Track World Championships in New Zealand will serve to showcase some of British Cycling’s youngest talent in track cycling and with some impressive results in the Europeans only a few weeks ago, Olympic Development Programme athletes Matt Rotherham, Jon Dibben, Elinor Barker and Amy Roberts will travel with the prospect of taking their performances to the next level.
We caught up with the team on the eve of their departure to New Zealand to discuss their form in the transition from European to world championship-level racing.
Jon Dibben, who achieved a bronze in the individual pursuit and the omnium in July, is one such rider hoping to build on his European championship form this week.
“I‘m excited about what should be a really good trip to New Zealand” Dibben said, discussing his current form as well as his focus on the omnium, which starts on Thursday.
“It’s the big one for the year. Training has been going well and I’ve had a couple of days of track time per-week in the run in to the event. The omnium will be a big focus for me this time around; I’ll be trying to get a good result in that. I think I’ll be in a strong position for the time trial events so I am hoping that the bunch races come together for me too.
“In the Euros, I got a good time down in the kilo and the individual pursuit, I just need to concentrate on getting my flying lap fast and then obviously holding my own in the bunch races, which are a bit of a lottery, especially the elimination race. I just need to try and ride them well and not let myself get caught out.”
Olympic Development Programme coach Matt Winston has already outlined that Dibben’s participation in the omnium will contribute to the broad range of skills he will need if he goes forward to the Olympic Academy Programme. And to that end, Dibben has already been doing some homework on the event, taking inspiration from Ed Clancy’s bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“Seeing the Omnium in the Olympics was inspiring. I paid particular attention to Ed Clancy and picked up a few tips from that. Ed lost out in the points and scratch, just as I did at the Euros in July. In the omnium, it’s not necessarily about winning everything but not losing out and not missing any groups or breaks in the bunch events.”
The women’s endurance squad will feature two European team pursuit champions; Elinor Barker and Amy Roberts. They will ride with British-born but Australian based, Hayley Jones. Despite the team’s lack of training opportunities as a unit, this doesn’t faze the duo:
“It’s going really well,” said Roberts. “We have spent a lot of time at the track and have got a lot of good sessions in. We have trained with Hailey a little at a recent training camp. It gives us so much confidence off the back of the Europeans, riding with a girl who we have hardly ridden with might seem a little nerve wracking but winning the European championship certainly gives us confidence ahead of the worlds.”
Elinor Barker will also target the omnium which will commence on Friday 24 August and continue over the usual two day timeslot. Barker spoke of her strengths in the multi-event discipline as well as her plan ahead of the first event, the flying lap time trial.
“My strengths in the omnium will definitely be the timed events, with the bunch races, it can go one way or the other really, sometimes it will go your way and other times it won’t so I’ve just made sure I have got the legs as well as the right plan for it.”
Matt Rotherham will be the sole sprint rider in the squad and comes with pedigree, having won gold in the kilo at the European championships as well as silver in the individual sprint and is keen to prove his mettle on the boards in New Zealand. He spoke of his abilities in the individual time trial but also of his cautious approach to avoid getting carried away with what is now a non-Olympic event.
“Training’s been going well, if I’m not going fast now, I never will be. Gym has been going really well in the lead up to the worlds and track has been complimenting it well, too.
“I think the kilo went alright in Portugal to be honest. From all areas of that race, there were definitely things that I needed to work on ready for the worlds. I took a lot from it and have been making the necessary changes in training. It was a really good experience but also a necessary one before going to the worlds.
“Being the British champion in the kilo it’s obviously an event which really works for me, but I have to be careful not to place too much on it as it is no longer an Olympic event. I love the process of the kilo but I need to focus on the sprint and the keirin as they are the events that will help me go to the Olympic Games in the future.“
Keep up to date with all the competition from the junior track world championships on British Cycling, with daily reports from Thursday.