Velodrome return for Olympic stars

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Published: Wednesday 3rd December 2014 by The News Editor

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Nostalgia will abound as Great Britain’s cyclists return to the Olympic Velodrome this week for the first time since London 2012, but now it is time to look ahead.

The Track World Cup at the Lee Valley VeloPark – as the Olympic Velodrome is now known – is the first competition in British skinsuits at the venue since Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton – who are both now retired – Laura Trott, Jason Kenny and all the others struck gold in August 2012.

Britain, astonishingly, matched their Beijing bounty of seven gold medals from 10 events, but have had mixed fortunes since.

The Olympic qualification for Rio 2016 has begun and the London Track World Cup offers an opportunity to see what progress has been made since a disappointing showing, by the men in particular, at the 2014 World Championships in Cali, Colombia.

For the first time since 1998 the men returned from a World Championships without a medal, leading to a dressing down from Shane Sutton, while the women won five medals.

Sutton is now technical director after a restructuring following the departure of British Cycling performance director Sir Dave Brailsford, who left in April to concentrate on his role as Team Sky principal.

One of the few to avoid a scolding assessment was Joanna Rowsell, who won team and individual pursuit titles in Colombia before adding the Commonwealth Games individual gold medal in July and the European team title in October.

Rowsell won team pursuit gold at London 2012 and is relishing a return to an arena which holds such happy memories, even though her 26th birthday on Friday’s opening day will coincide with a busy schedule of racing.

She said on britishcycling.org.uk: “There’s an extra round of the team pursuit – qualifying, semi-final and final all on the same day – which is on my birthday too.”

Rowsell missed the November Track World Cup to focus on her conditioning for London, with the 2015 World Championships in Paris in mind.

“I have had two weeks in Majorca, which were brilliant, my form has come on massively,” Rowsell added.

“I had a break after the Commonwealths, tried some different training out which didn’t really work for me.

“It worked well for some of the other girls but I just dipped so stopped and did what worked for me.

“It’s not that I’m not willing to try new training, but at my age I’ve done it for enough years to know what works.

“It’s good to try out new things and say ‘let’s go back to what we know works’. So I went to Majorca and had a good two weeks, all of my power outputs are coming back to what I’d expect and I feel a lot better on the track, so I’m in the right direction now.”

London will provide an indication of whether that is the case for the British squad as a whole, although there are caveats.

Illness has disrupted preparations in recent weeks, while the considerable presence of Sir Bradley Wiggins is still to return to the track full time, with the aim of racing in the team pursuit in Rio.

Wiggins is likely to return to the boards after April’s Paris-Roubaix one-day classic, his early season target for 2015, and then it will be full steam ahead for Rio.

Published: Wednesday 3rd December 2014 by The News Editor

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