British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford has played down expectations ahead of the final round of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in London this week.
The fourth and final leg of the series doubles as the track cycling test event for London 2012 and will see the first competitive action on the Olympic velodrome’s boards.
Brailsford has named a star line-up to ride in the capital, with Sir Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, Victoria Pendleton, Geraint Thomas, and Ed Clancy among the Beijing medallists selected.
A sell-out crowd is set to pack the 6,000-capacity velodrome across the four-day track (February 16-19) meeting but Brailsford, who has overseen Great Britain’s cycling renaissance, says the event is merely another checkpoint ahead of this summer’s Olympic Games.
“Everybody’s going to be in different phases of their training so nobody’s going to be focussing full gas on the test event,” said Brailsford.
“The temptation is that, because it’s a home crowd, we’d like to perform well and we’d like to raise it in our priorities. But if the fourth World Cup was in Greece, for example, the thought process in terms of training and conditions would be very different.
“We’ve got to avoid the temptation of being put under pressure to perform at the test event when actually it’s not the right thing to do in the long term for the bigger goal.”
While the World Cup will give riders the opportunity to familiarise themselves with London’s new velodrome, the test event is in effect another hurdle to clear before the World Championships in Melbourne, Australia, in April, which will provide the final opportunity to fine-tune race form before the Olympics.
Australia have topped the medal table at the past two World Championships, winning six of the ten Olympic events in 2011, but Brailsford believes this year’s worlds will provide the perfect platform from which to launch an attack on the Olympic Games.
“You have got to get used to it – you have got to go out into the velodrome on race day and go through the process. [The worlds are] the closest you will get in terms of preparing for the Olympics,” he said.
“It’s a no-lose situation really. If it goes well we will have landed a few psychological blows on our main opponents and if it does not go so well in some events we still have some time to put it right and you can change a lot in three months.”