In the first of our 2013 Worlds previews we look at the background to the Championships and discover why the first World Championships after London 2012 won’t be quite the same as last year.

trackcycling’s coverage of the 2013 World Track Championships is supported by V-Sprint

wcbanner2013-smalltrackcycling’s coverage of the 2013 World Track Championships is supported by V-Sprint

The 2013 UCI Track Cycling World Championships isn’t the impressive Minsk Arena’s first international event – the velodrome hosted the 2009 European Championships – but it is the first time the city has hosted the World Championships. The complex has, however, hosted the finals of the Continental Ice Hockey League, the European Rythmic Gymnastics Championships and even Junior Eurovision – so they have plenty of experience of running major events.

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The first World Championships of any new Olympic cycle always has a slightly different feel to it. With four years to go until Rio, some countries will start to experiment – trying out riders that are on the fringes of their plans for the next time The Circus comes to town.

Many of those established, star names that are likely to be still in with a chance of a medal at the Barra Velodrome in the sprawling Nelson Piquet International Autodrome complex will be rested. But some of those whose careers won’t reach that far will be back – for one last shot at a yellow jersey before the next generation pushes them out of the national squad.

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But don’t be surprised if the medals table still has a familiar look to it. Four years ago in Pruszków, Poland saw the USA’s Taylor Phinney take the Men’s Individual Pursuit title but the Sprint title went to France’s Grégory Baugé and the Kilo to Stefan Nimke of Germany. Nimke’s compatriot Maximilian Levy took the Keirin, Morgan Kneisky of France the Men’s Scratch. Australian Cameron Meyer took the first of his Points Race titles with his young team mate Leigh Howard taking the Omnium title – in its pre-Olympic format – while Denmark took the Madison and the Team Pursuit and France the Team Sprint.

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By the Olympics in London, Baugé, the French Team Sprint squad and Max Levy were the only 2009 World Champions to medal – all taking Silvers. The story in the Women’s events was similar with Gonzalez of Cuba taking the Scratch, Bronzini of Italy the Points Race and Tomic of Australia the Omnium. Pendleton took Gold in the Sprint with the Great Britain Women’s Team Pursuit squad also taking top spot on the podium. Krupeckaite of Lithuania won the 500m, Shanks of New Zealand the Individual Pursuit, Guo of China the Keirin and Australia the Team Sprint.

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Fast forward to London and, again, few of the 2009 Gold Medalists repeated their success on the Olympic stage – only Jo Rowsell in the Team Pursuit took Gold again. Pendleton swapped her Sprint Gold medal for a Silver and a Gold in the Keirin and Guo picked up a Silver in the Keirin.

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And what of Great Britain – who shared the spoils pretty evenly with Australia in the 2011 World Championships in Apeldoorn and again in 2012 in Melbourne but who dominated the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics? In 2009 they finished 3rd in the medals table – behind Australia and France with just those two Golds in the Women’s events : Pendleton, now retired, in the Sprint and a Women’s Team Pursuit squad consisting of 2012 Olympic Road Race Silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead, 2012 Olympic Team Pursuit Gold medallist Jo Rowsell and 2008 Olympic Individual Pursuit runner-up Wendy Houvenaghel.

Will 2013 in Minsk be a better indication of form for Rio? Probably not. But it will be a great opportunity for some young riders to make a name for themselves and we’re expecting some great competition. Our full previews of the Men’s and Women’s competitions will be up over the course of the weekend.

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trackcycling’s coverage of the 2013 World Track Championships is supported by V-Sprint

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