Ed Clancy confessed to PA that “Obviously it would be nice to win, but, the most important thing is that we do a good time, get a bit of confidence from that, go quicker at the worlds then head to the Olympics. You can talk a lot about the psychological advantage you can gain here, if we beat them on home turf and then on their home turf, but I think really, we won the Europeans by a decent margin, but I think we were all a bit deflated by the actual time and the ride we did. We put a lot of effort in and training over winter period, if we do a really good solid ride here and at least be in there within the kill of the fight, we will draw a bit of that, that will mean we have our tails up going in to the worlds. That’s all we want – to gain a bit of confidence going in to the Worlds.
The Australians have seen their top team – how did Clancy see that decision? “You can look at that in 2 ways – either they want to get an advantage, or perhaps they just want to check out the place because it’ll be the same team at the Olympics. It would make sense for them to do that. I wouldn’t expect them to do otherwise. It will either be to send a message out by beating us on home turf, or just to check out what it’s like over here. I don’t know what their training has been like..They might not be on 100% form. They have sent their A-Team. Chances are that they are going to mean business.
Is a 3 minute 50 second Team Pursuit realistic? ”At this World Cup, it’s not going to happen, I don’t think. If it does, then it won’t be by us! When teams really get their heads on – when they prepare for the track – it could happen at the Olympics. But times are funny. It depends on the atmospheric pressure, the temperature and how the boards are running as much as your legs. We could go 2-3 seconds quicker. Potentially it’s on. Perhaps not this weekend, but potentially, yeah.
PA asked Geraint Thomas How hard it was to put his road career on one side to prepare for the track competition – and how determined he will be to get everything out of the Olympic Games? “It’s kind of an easy decision really. The Olympics, a home Games, means a lot to me and so I love to do it. The team pursuit is the best chance I have of winning a gold medal, so that’s what I decided to do. There is obviously still that thought in the back of my mind about the road, i did well on it last year, and I want to keep that progression going but at the same time the Olympic Games is the Olympic Games and as we all say, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. At the end of the day it was quite an easy decision really.”
How does his training differ from road to track? “The track is completely different training to the road. You live on top of each other really. The coach is on your back 24/7 telling you when to eat, when to train, what times to be doing. It’s like being back at school really. On the roads you are left to your own devices. The support is there but it’s on the end of the phone. The track, everyone is on top of each other. In that way it’s completely different. But at the same time, I have sort of kept quite a bit of road racing in my training. We still have our own little bit of independent aspects to it. We all want to be flying at the Olympics, not here. I have kind of mixed and matched it up so I haven’t been completely fresh. Hopefully this week will make me more fresh. I rode the track in November. I have been switching between the two. You can do it.”
Peter Kennaugh was asked how he had adapted to the training environment. ”I think Swifty is the same as well. It is different. I did find it hard in November and December when we were under quite strict, regimented training. But I am feeling the gains. I am just going to get on with the training, keep on with that and put that enthusiasm in to the race and the training sessions too. I have the Giro this year to look forward to. I have only that to prepare for but it was the same again last year. The advantages of having races before is that you can go really well in the 1st two weeks, but having the advantages of having no racing is that you are a lot fresher.
“Hopefully, with the Olympic Games being my main goal, I will be able to use the Giro as good preparation for that. After the Olympics, hopefully I will be able to look at the end of the season with enthusiasm.
“Last year I felt I was coming off it a bit because I had done a lot of racing. It will be hard, but there are more races like the Tour of Britain. It’s hard. At the moment I am man three, but Geraint can do it as well. I have done a bit of Man 2 the last couple of weeks so there is always that option. We will see how it goes in the qualifier. Things might change after that but hopefully it will be good and we won’t have to change it.”
Ben Swift will be competing in the Omnium this weekend. PA asked whether that was his goal for the Worlds, too. “I don’t know really. I tried to get in to team pursuit here but it didn’t quite work out. I was quite disappointed but it was always going to be hard to get selected for the team but it does give you extra motivation to get selected for the Worlds. I will give it a go. I just am looking forward to starting racing.
“The Omnium is such a hard discipline to get right. The only guy who I have seen perform time and time again in it is Ed. He is so consistent in the event. It is just good to be racing!
And Ed? “The team pursuit is still the priority, it’s what I am after. If I end up riding the Omnium and perhaps getting a result it’s a bonus but.. I just don’t think it’s worth preparing 4 years for an event which could easily be taken away from you in the elimination race or missing a lap in the points race.. the Team pursuit training works well for the Omnium you get your speed and endurance from that. You could do it specifically on an
upright bike, but I choose to concentrate on the pursuits and If I get selected for the Omnium then great. I don’t do any real training for it. We will sometimes get our upright bikes out but apart from that I don’t do anything specific. Perhaps I’ll do a little bit before the Worlds and the OIympics.”
Women’s Team Pursuit and Omnium
PA asked Wendy Houvenaghel if it feels like it all starts this week? “Yeah, being in 2012 and having the Olympic test event in the next few days really does feel like we are starting this Olympic process for real.”
“I think we will go into this competition fully prepared and we will ride to the best of our ability and produce a very good performance. Whether that means the win or not is really not something that we’re too concerned about at the moment, as we are focusing on a win in August.”
Jo Rowsell added “Yeah, I think if we could pick one race to win, we’d all pick the Olympics. This is just a stepping stone on the way.
“So obviously it’s very important and it’s going to be great to race on the Olympic track but it’s not the number one priority.”
Have they continued to make progress in terms of times? Houvenaghel responds “Absolutely. I think, because we are really quite a new group, there are gains to be made and we have making those gains in training very steadily, really since probably last February.”
Laura Trott’s not worried about times this weekend – “It’s almost like the time’s irrelevant. We’re just going to go out as quickly as we can. If that gets the win, that gets the win.”
King adds “It’s the performance that we focus on, getting all the different steps right in terms of the ride itself, and then the time will take care of itself, I think.”
Things will hot up as the Olympics approach, according to Houvenaghel “I think the current record stands at 3.19, which we got very close to last February – and those times will tumble over the next six months.
“It remains to be seen whether that will be possible in the next few days but it’ll be a great bonus if it is and not something that we would lose sleep about if it isn’t.”
“It’s really hard to put a number on it, as conditions will change when we race in the summer, which will lend itself to faster times.
“But I think, at the moment, we’ll be certainly trying to go faster than the 3.19, which is the
Dani King and Laura Trott with both be doing the Omnium. Do they do anything different to prepare? Both say no. King adds “It’s completely off the back of team pursuit training but it seems to have worked quite well so far.”
Trott confirms this “Yeah. Obviously, we can watch what’s happened before – obviously, we’ve got a lot of feedback. But, no, we don’t train for it at all. Team pursuit’s our main focus.”
So does the Team Pursuit prepare you for a wide range of events? Trott things so “Kind of, because team pursuit is where you get your strength from because obviously you’ve got to go flat out for three minutes.
“And it’s almost like a sprint event because, when you’re at the front, it’s sprint for a lap, which if you look at it like that is almost like a points race, because it’s a sprint every 10 laps.
“So, yeah, it just makes you strong. And if you’re strong, you’re going to get round in a group race anywhere.”
King agrees “It definitely helps. I think there are loads of elements training for team pursuit. It’s not just going round the track or on the road in Mallorca or in the gym. So I think it all helps for the Omnium as well.
“Like Laura said, the Omnium’s a mixture of sprint events and endurance events, and so’s the team pursuit in that aspect, because it’s all about getting off the start fast, which is obviously the sprint aspect and then it’s being strong as well.
Which events do they find most unnatural in the Omnium? Trott says “The elimination race, just because so many things happen all in one go.
“The race is so hard anyway, so you can’t let your mind slip, because everything’s just happening so fast. You have to concentrate every other lap and it’s just like ‘Arghh!'”
King agrees “Definitely. The elimination on points, I’d say, because it’s obviously the longest event and we’re used to riding for just over three minutes.”
PA asked Wendy Houvenaghel whether the Team Pursuit has changed in small ways – innovations teams have made to look out for? “I think that because it’s now on the Olympic programme, other teams have started to take it seriously, as have we.
“And we, as a team, have been doing a lot more training for team pursuit than ever before and that will help us to go faster as a unit. I think that can only mean that the times will eventually be faster.
“So whilst there hasn’t been a great fall in the times since our first World Championship in 2008 – I think we won that in 3.22 – the times are definitely becoming faster and faster, and I think that’s in keeping with the fact that the event is now on the Olympic programme and everyone’s taking it seriously.”
“I think that we are very strong at starting fast and more quickly than some of the other nations. We all bring different attributes to this team and I think that’s where we have a strength.”
Matthew CRAMPTON (Sky Track Cycling)