Ed Clancy says he is more aware than ever of his leadership role, as the Great Britain men’s team pursuit squad prepare for this weekend’s home world cup as they continue to look to chase down their Australian counterparts ahead of next summer’s Olympics.
Clancy has been part of the Great Britain quartet which has won the event at each of the last three Olympic Games, but as Tokyo draws nearer, world champions and world record holders Australia have established themselves as the event’s current dominant force.
At 34, Clancy is the elder statesman in the team who have narrowing that gap firmly in their sights.
“We’re more than aware that we’re not favourites to get gold in Tokyo at the moment,” he admits. “We haven’t beaten the Australian team since Rio – we won the world championships in 2018, but Australia weren’t there.
“From our point of view, we’re chasing, we’re behind, we’re number two at the moment.”
Clancy and his team-mates took silver behind the Australian quartet at the most recent world championships, with Ethan Hayter (21), Kian Emadi (27), Charlie Tanfield (22) and Ollie Wood (23) the other men on the podium in Great Britain kit.
If selected, Tokyo would represent a first Olympics for all four, and Clancy acknowledges the role he needs to play in guiding what is a young team through the coming months and on to Tokyo.
“With age, I guess people do look to you more to come up with answers and suggestions. To be honest, since 2012 people have been talking of me as the team leader and the captain, but I’ve never really felt that until now.
“I know I’ve got a significant age and experience gap on all of the other guys in the team, bar Steven (Burke), so I’m more happy these days to put my hand up and say what I’m thinking, to put my suggestions forward. I’m enjoying it, and I’m enjoying the whole process – it’s nice to be riding round with a load of little brothers!”
Clancy and his team-mates will be in action over the winter in the six-round Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Cup series, the second of which takes place in Glasgow over this weekend.
For Clancy, the significance of competing in front of a home crowd again is huge.
“It’s amazing, riding in front of a home crowd, and these days we don’t get to do it that often. It’s going to be special in Glasgow, and perhaps more so for me because it’s potentially going to be the last time I ride in front of a home crowd in Great Britain kit, so I’m keen for that.”