A “dog fight” between Great Britain and Australia’s team pursuit squads could be decided by as little as one tenth of a second at this summer’s Olympic Games in London.
That’s the prediction of Beijing gold medalist, Ed Clancy, a member of the team pursuit quartet beaten to gold by Australia at last Sunday’s closing round of the UCI Track World Cup.
Clancy told RoadCyclingUK that Great Britain’s men’s team pursuit squad was “in a good place” despite their disappointment at finishing nearly two seconds behind the Australian team at last Sunday’s Olympic test event.
“We moved a big step in the right direction. In the last Olympic cycle, that would have got us a world record. We’re in a good place,” said Clancy.
“We can’t deny the Australians have got a great team. They’re a team of superstars and they will only get stronger,” he added.
“But Geraint Thomas has a bit more to go and Burkey (Steven Burke) had just come back from illness.”
“It will be tough this time,” he warned.
“It’s going to go down to a ‘tenth’. It’s going to be a proper dog fight. We will give 100 per cent.”
Sir Chris Hoy was among a number of Team GB riders to have praised the overwhelming support of the 6,000-strong crowd at the London velodrome. Clancy said the atmosphere in the velodrome was “like a football stadium”.
“There was a wall of noise. It doesn’t change what we do: we’d still give 100 per cent even if there was only one guy cheering. But it gives you a confidence boost before and afterwards. Even though we lost out to the Aussies, we still got a huge cheer. It makes you feel good about yourself. You feel that it matters. That’s what we’ll take away with us,” he said.
Great Britain’s performance at the world cup – the team topped the medal table and won gold medals with Hoy, Joanna Rowsell, and the women’s team pursuit and team sprint squads – had been the team’s best for years, said Clancy.
“The team performed really well at the world cup. Sir Chris led the way, and we saw good things from women’s cycling in the sprint and the pursuit.
“They are all on target to get gold. There’s been a certain level of disappointment in ourselves with performances at world cups and world championships in the last couple of years. This has been our best performance in a while. We can take confidence from that. It lifts the spirits,” he said.
Clancy said the level of expectation had increased since Beijing, but insisted external pressure had no bearing on the team’s performance.
“It’s only a problem if you make it a problem. You turn it into a bonus,” he said. “The cycling world is bigger. There’s more people who care about it. The general public is right behind it. People just expect [a gold medal]. Your neighbour expects, your friend expects, your family says, ‘another Olympics, another gold medal’ but it doesn’t work like that,” he said.
Clancy will soon fly to Mallorca with Geraint Thomas and Andy Tennant for 10-day block of road training. He will then return to the Manchester velodrome to train on the track for up to two weeks before travelling to Melbourne for the UCI Track World Championships in April. “That’s when we start to taper and get quicker,” he said.
Ed Clancy was talking at a briefing to unveil the 2012 Rapha Condor Sharp squad. Check back for a full report on the team launch.