Road to 2016
Norfolk and Winston review junior track world championships
Matt Winston and Jon Norfolk - British Cycling’s Olympic Development Programme coaches for track - have stated their satisfaction of the team’s display at the junior world championships.
Ruminating on the performances in New Zealand, both were impressed not only with the way the team dealt with a very new experience, but moreover how the Olympic Development Programme athletes relished the new challenges associated with competing on the world stage so far away from home.
Matt Rotherham was Great Britain’s sole sprint representative and despite struggling to maintain the form that took him to gold at the European championships in Portugal earlier this summer, Norfolk testified the experience was far from a negative one.
“We had a good trip altogether,” Norfolk said.
“We had some good results but where I think the guys did really well was handling the travel and coping with the stress of big competition. While some performances were better than others, what all the guys did well was dialling into their processes of racing and their own performances rather than getting carried away with distractions around them.
“Matt didn’t hang on to as much form as he had in Europeans, what he did do was hold on to what form he did have very well. He hit the kilo a bit harder earlier on in the race and the doors came off with one and a half laps to go. It was impressive to see how he fully committed to it though.”
Norfolk continued: “The way he focused and did his warm up was so much better than in the Europeans, so from that point of view, it was a massive improvement. He just fell short in a couple of the sprints and keirins, just not fully committing to it.”
Ultimately taking the positive, Norfolk concluded the experience of some below-par race results would help Rotherham in the future.
“The great thing he will get from it, is that at the time you’re not quite on form and your legs aren’t quite as good as you are used to, that’s when you really have to dig in mentally and squeeze out every last drop that you have.”
On the endurance side, there were some great performances from Jon Dibben with a well-earned silver in the omnium where he dominated the time trial events. In addition, Elinor Barker took silver in the same event, backing it up with a further silver in the individual pursuit and a bronze in the team pursuit.
In addition, Amy Roberts took a bronze in the points race and Hayley Jones, who has barely had a chance to acclimatise to the team, gave a great first performance in the team pursuit. Jones, who was based in Australia, also earned a personal best in the individual pursuit which Winston spoke of as “a great result for her”, moments after the race.
“It was a really great opportunity for they guys.” Winston enthused. “As Jon (Norfolk) touched on, the travel was a great experience for riders who had never really gone long haul to a competition before.
He continued: “They all dealt with it really well. The girls’ team pursuit I was particularly pleased with, a new national record was a great result; we set a target of 3:30 and that’s what we did. It was great to see how well Hayley Jones dropped into the squad with such little time spent with the other girls on the team. We put a polished ride together in four days. It wasn’t perfect by any means but they rode well together as a three and we really pulled things together by race day.”
“For Jon Dibben’s omnium we looked at performances from the Europeans and knew that he would excel in the timed events. We did a little bit of work with him on bunch racing, which paid off in the points race where he got a lap up on the field with a few other riders, on the front controlling the race. The elimination didn’t go as well as we had planned but with his clear strength in the timed events, we can now go away and focus on his tactics ahead of future competitions.”
“Elinor was pretty strong throughout her omnium; she rode impressively in both the timed events as well as the bunch races and her individual pursuit was good too, Elinor qualified second fastest and backed it up with a silver overall.”
THE NEXT STEP
As this week marks the closing date for applications to join both British Cycling’s Olympic Academy and Olympic Development Programmes, both Winston and Norfolk seem pleased with what they have seen. Clearly both of them have plenty of food for thought ahead of their selections and Norfolk is already excited with the direction of the next generation of Olympians.
“It’s good to expose them to what is out there at the moment, this early in their careers. With applications to the Performance Programmes soon closing we will assess how they have performed this year and work out how we are going to structure our groups going forward. With a lot of other nations, every training session is a competition and we need to create that for our squad going forward.”