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Skinner expects team sprint battle in London

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Callum Skinner has highlighted team sprint world champions New Zealand and Germany as the main threats to Great Britain at the UCI Track Cycling World Cup.

Skinner will ride with Olympic champions Jason Kenny and Philip Hindes at the second round of the series in London.

The trio defeated Germany to win gold at round one in Guadalajara, Mexico, ending a four-year wait for a men's team sprint victory at a world cup.

But 22-year-old Skinner expects an even tougher test at the Lee Valley VeloPark Velodrome on Friday.

“The men's team sprint is incredibly strong,” said British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme athlete Skinner.

“We've got the Kiwis coming - the world champions, and the Germans who came second to us in Mexico.

“I think last time we we're a bit fortunate with the Kiwis having a mishap in the first round which made them qualify third or fourth so they were out of the way early but if they keep the team together they are really rapid.”

With the Netherlands, Australia and France also set to field strong line-ups in the capital, Skinner revealed a top-four ambition for Great Britain.

“There’s definitely a lot of competition there but our target is top four, to get a second ride and if we can do that we are doing really well in terms of Olympic qualifying points and we can hopefully come away with a good result as well.”

Having performed well in the man-three position, Skinner will look to establish himself in the role with plenty of competition within the Great Britain Cycling Team ranks.

Kian Emadi took on the task at the 2013 and 2014 UCI Track Cycling World Championships with Hindes and Kenny but a back injury has ruled the 22-year-old out since September.

“There is big competition for man three in the team,” Skinner said.

“We've got Matt Crampton, Lewis Oliva, Kian Emadi and myself all competing for that same position. But I'd say it's really healthy competition, we all kind of push each other on.

“We know we've got Phil in man one and Jason in man two who are possibly the two quickest guys in the world in those positions, so if we can get man three in there as well it's going to be a really quick team.

“There's a real goal at the end of it and some good healthy competition to push us along everyday as well.”

A first world cup gold for Skinner came on the back of four sprint titles at the British Cycling National Track Championships.

The Scot, though, believes there is plenty of room for improvement.

“I think I'd always like to squeeze a bit more out of my own lap but being the first international competition with me in that line-up there's a lot of learning to do and a lot of work to do, ” Skinner said.

“Hopefully it will be something we can improve on coming into London and future comps after that as well.”

Inspired to try track cycling after witnessing Sir Chris Hoy win kilo gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, Skinner is now in contention to take his fellow Scot’s place at man three in Rio.  

But he is quick to rebuff comparisons to an ‘icon’ of the sport.

“I say it's definitely flattering to be compared to Chris Hoy but if I can emulate his success even by a small percentage I'd be amazed,” Skinner said.

“He definitely an icon in the sport and I'm kind of targeting the same position he was but I try not to pay too much attention to the comparisons. I'm just out there trying to make a name for myself and just target that position as best as can and go as fast as I can.”

A spectator at London 2012, when he witnessed Hoy bow out with six Olympic gold medals to his name, Skinner is determined to take his opportunity and force his way into Great Britain’s plans for Rio 2016.

“The atmosphere at the Olympic Games was just incredible, you couldn't hear yourself speak when the crowd got going,” Skinner said.

“Missing out on London has given me more motivation to get into the Rio team, it's something I definitely don't want to miss out on.”

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