Road To 2012
Phil Dixon “Backing up performances key at Houffalize”
Published 11 April 2012
Words And Photography By Luke Webber
British Cycling’s Olympic Mountain Bike Coach, Phil Dixon has outlined his ambitions for the second round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Houffalize this weekend as qualification for the Olympic Games enters the conclusive stages.
With just three rounds of the World Cup remaining, Britain are in a position to qualify one place for both men’s and women’s events, but require results in every race if they are to cement their ranking.
There were mixed results at round one in South Africa, with British Cycling Olympic Academy athlete Annie Last leading for the opening two laps, before finishing ninth. British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme athletes Liam Killeen and Dave Fletcher faced tougher times in the elite men’s race; Fletcher finishing just outside of the top sixty and the points, with Killeen crashing heavily and recovering to 36th.
Speaking after the preparatory race of Rabobank Bikecenter van Tuyl Paasbike, Dixon reiterated it was key to back up the performances from the opening round of the World Cup – and with a little luck – improve on the end result.
“I’m looking to go into the final two back-to-back World Cups with two solid performances from the opening two rounds. I want to have a bit of a push into Nove Mesto and La Bresse and end the first block of preparation on a high, with Olympic places qualified before a mid-season break. At this point there will be a de-brief, before ironing out the details and continuing to run the plan. Having the rub of the green at Houffalize - with no punctures or crashes - will only help that.”
If Britain qualify a women's spot for London 2012, it will be the first time since Sydney 2000
The focus of the weekend is not only on qualification for 2012, but continuing to deliver future Olympic champions for 2016 and beyond. Olympic Academy athletes Kenta Gallagher and Grant Ferguson will continue their season in the under-23 category; Gallagher hoping to build on his first World Cup top ten in South Africa and Ferguson looking for better luck after puncturing on the final lap while in the same position.
2012 will also be the fourth year Dixon has taken a junior squad to compete in the junior World Cup where he believes gaining experience on the international circuit is essential for young riders.
“It has been proven in the current line-up of young riders – Kenta Gallagher and Grant Ferguson benefitted hugely from the junior World Cup, it was not only a chance to race on the same courses as the professionals, but also to see role models like Liam Killeen and Annie Last. It is important for the youngsters to learn not only from the coaches, but from their peers and if they perform well there are opportunities to race in the next two rounds.”
You can watch round two of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup live on Sunday from 1000BST.
Riders representing British Cycling at UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Round 2
Liam Killeen – British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme
Dave Fletcher – British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme
Annie Last – British Cycling Olympic Academy Programme
Kenta Gallagher – British Cycling Olympic Academy Programme
Grant Ferguson – British Cycling Olympic Academy Programme
Iain Paton – British Cycling Olympic Development Programme
Mike Thompson – British Cycling Olympic Development Programme
Alice Barnes – British Cycling Olympic Development Programme
Bethany Crumpton – British Cycling Olympic Development Programme