Who’d be daft enough to try to predict the World Championships? Well, we’ve done it before and we decided to do it again. The day before the start of competition at the 2018 UCI Track Cycling World Championships, editor Guy Swarbrick and race reporter Alex Reed sat down independently to make their predictions for the week. There are a lot of similarities, but some notable differences.
Alex Reed: So we’ve both gone for reigning World Champion – and World Cup leader – Rachele Barbieri of Italy in the first medal event of the week the Women’s Scratch – but it’s not an event that often sees the title successfully defended.
Guy Swarbrick: That’s true, but she’s just got such an amazing turn of speed – if she’s still in the front of the race with a couple of laps to go, it’s hard to see anyone beating her in a sprint.
GS: Rachele Barbieri ITA
AR: Rachele Barbieri ITA
AR: And in the Men’s you’ve gone for a sprinter – Christos Volikakis of Greece – what’s your thinking there?
GS: A bit like Barbieri, to be honest – if he can hold on to the leaders until the closing stages, I think he’s got the legs to leave everyone behind. What’s the thinking behind your choice?
AR: Chris Latham? I just think he’s been there or thereabouts and I fancied a bit of an outsider. Plus he’s due a big win so it would be nice to see.
GS: Christos Volikakis GRE
AR: Chris Latham GBR
GS: So we’ve both gone for Germany in the Women’s Team Sprint – it’s hard to see past Kristina Vogel and Miriam Welte…
AR: They’ve also got Pauline Grabosch who may ride in the qualifiers – but Vogel and Welte were smashing it at the Berlin Six a month ago.
GS: And another one we agree on – New Zealand for the Men’s Team Sprint.
AR: They’re defending champions…
GS: They’ve won three of the last four – and were second in 2013 and 2015…
AR: True. On paper, it’s hard to see anyone getting near them. Although I do think Great Britain will be right up there with Jason Kenny returning.
GS: Not to mention France. Or Germany. Or the Netherlands! It should be one of the highlights of the week.
AR: New Zealand
GS: New Zealand
AR: Same prediction again – and obviously GB have a great pedigree – but whichever line-up they go with it’s an untested squad.
GS: That’s right. I think this one’s one of the hardest ones to call. France, Italy – even Germany or Denmark – are very strong and, as you say, GB will have Ed Clancy and then three of Kian Emadi, Mark Stewart, Ethan Hayter, Charlie Tanfield and Ollie Wood. But they’re all strong riders and with the absence of Australia there’s no clear favourites.
GS: Great Britain
AR: Great Britain
AR: The USA is an interesting choice for the Women’s Team Pursuit. Do you really think Chloe Dygert can tow the other three around?
GS: I think that’s a bit unfair on the rest of the squad. Jennifer Valente has had a great winter – especially in the Omnium. But there’s no doubt Chloe’s the engine of the team and she’s phenomenal. And I know it seems an odd thing to say, but with Laura Kenny really not having ridden at all since Rio and the baby – what makes you think GB can win it?
AR: Laura may have had some time off but you’ve still got three Olympic Champions in the squad and Kenny’s return adds to the strength of the squad and her personality will be a morale boost. Plus the team claim that the new Cervelo T5GB is the fastest bike in the world…
AR: Great Britain
GS: We disagree in the next event, too. Having watched Matthijs Buchli over the winter, I think the Dutch rider’s in the form of his life – and almost put him down for the Sprint as well – but you’ve gone for Matt Glaetzer…
AR: The changes to the Keirin mean that – if you’re prepared to go for a long one – a good Kilo rider is unbeatable. And there aren’t many better Kilo riders.
AR: Matthew Glaetzer AUS
GS: Matthijs Buchli NED
GS: We’ve both gone for Vogel again in the Keirin. Is there anyone else that can challenge her?
AR: I think Elis Ligtlee – in front of her home crowd – may be a good outside bet, but it’s hard to see anybody beating Kristina.
AR: Kristina Vogel GER
GS: Kristina Vogel GER
AR: How could you go for anyone other than Cam Meyer in the Points Race? He’s a multiple world champion, with great road form at the moment. And you’ve gone for…
GS: I agree – Meyer’s one of the best ever Points Race riders, but Mark Downey’s a great tactical rider and very strong… I think he might surprise a few people. But if Meyer wins, nobody will be surprised.
GS: Mark Downey IRL
AR: Cameron Meyer AUS
AR: We’ve both done for the defending champion – again – is Elinor Barker a safe bet?
GS: Probably. Elinor’s a great points race rider and strong enough that it’s very difficult for other riders to mark her out of the race – but she’s going to have to hold off Kirsten Wild in front of a home crowd. Even though we agreed, I’m not that confident on this one.
AR: Elinor Barker GBR
GS: Elinor Barker GBR
GS: It’s hard to believe we weren’t looking over each other’s shoulders. Charlie Tanfield wasn’t even on the Great Britain squad at the start of this World Cup season and we’ve both got him down to win the Individual Pursuit. How’s he moved ahead of the likes of Filippo Ganna of Italy all of a sudden?
AR: On the one hand, you’ve got a rider who’s ridden one race at this level. But what a race! He was seven and half seconds clear in Minsk and just over a second and a half shy of Jack Bobridge’s World Record – riding for a trade team. I don’t just think he’s going to win it – I think he’s going to break the World Record.
GS: Charlie Tanfield GBR
AR: Charlie Tanfield GBR
GS: And we’ve come up with the same prediction for the Women’s Event, too – Chloe Dygert.
AR: We already talked about her in the Team Pursuit. She’s a machine.
GS: Chloe Dygert USA
AR: Chloe Dygert USA
AR: Vogel again in the Women’s Sprint – and I think she might be even more of a nailed on favourite here than in the Keirin.
GS: I’m not sure about that – I think she’s probably slightly stronger in the Keirin. But, either way, she’s won both titles three times. And we’re both saying it’s another double.
AR: Kristina Vogel GER
GS: Kristina Vogel GER
AR: Even with the return of Jason Kenny, we’ve both gone for Russia’s Deni Dmitriev in the Men’s Sprint.
GS: Yeah – and I think there’s a couple of riders that could push him close – Kenny, Hoogland – even Dawkins or Vynokurov. But is there a better match sprinter here?
AR: Denis Dmitriev RUS
GS: Denis Dmitriev RUS
AR: It’s hardly worth talking about the Omnium, is it – we’ve both gone for the same riders in both events – and probably for much the same reason.
GS: Yep. They’re both uncatchable once they go and with the four bunch race format, that’s a pretty useful trait. In the Women’s event you have to say Katie Archibald is a very strong favourite.
AR: She is. There are others worth an outside bet, though. Jennifer Valente of the USA won a couple of World Cup rounds – and Denmark have to choose between Amalie Dideriksen and Trine Schmidt, who would both be medal contenders.
GS: Katie Archibald GBR
AR: Katie Archibald GBR
GS: And in the Men’s, it’s another Dane that will be the one to watch. We’ve both gone for Niklas Larsen – but who else is worth looking out for?
AR: There are a few – Felix English of Ireland is one – and your man Volikakis could start off with a win in the Scratch Race. And Daniel Holloway of the USA is a World Cup winner.
GS: Niklas Larsen DEN
AR: Niklas Larsen DEN
GS: We’re getting a bit boring now – another pair of identical predictions. I very nearly went for Pauline Grabosch of Germany for the 500m Time Trial, but I still think Shmeleva will take it.
AR: I agree – and I’d go for Grabosch as the outside bet, too or Welte. But I’m going to stick my neck out and suggest Katy Marchant for a medal.
AR: Daria Shmeleva RUS
GS: Daria Shmeleva RUS
AR: So… Matt Glaetzer… Fastest ever sea-level Kilo in the World Cup at Manchester – and then took another two tenths off that at the National Champs in Brisbane – and we’re actually a bit below sea-level here…
GS: It might be a bit cold for records this week, but he should take the Gold.
AR: Matthew Glaetzer AUS
GS: Matthew Glaetzer AUS
AR: There have only been a handful of Women’s Madison’s at World Level, but D’Hoore and Kopecky were the class of the field in Hong Kong and they’ve looked good all winter.
GS: I agree. But it’s so wide open – the two Lydias – Gurley and Boylan – for Ireland; Katie Archibald and Elinor Barker for Great Britain; Jasmin Duehring and Alison Beveridge of Canada – or Racquel Sheath and Michaela Drummond of New Zealand.
AR: I agree, and it will be fascinating to see how the Women’s Madison field has developed compared to last year. It will definitely be one of the highlights of the week.
AR: And for the last event of the week, you’ve gone for the wildcard again – when it’s obvious Cameron Meyer and Callum Scotson are going to lap the field a couple of times.
GS: You could well be right, but never write off Albert Torres and Sebastian Mora – they can take laps for fun -and will happily take a couple in the closing stages and take everyone by surprise.
AR: It’ll certainly be a surprise if Meyer and Scotson don’t win it.
GS: We’ll see…