Dave Brailsford insists Great Britain’s track riders cannot rest on their laurels after finishing the European Championships with seven gold medals.
British riders dominated in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, topping the podium in all of the Olympic disciplines bar both individual sprints and the men’s team sprint.
Four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy was ruled out of the men’s individual sprint through illness, with Jason Kenny finishing fourth, while Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton could only register eighth in the women’s race. Hoy, Kenny and Matt Crampton were out of the medals in the men’s team sprint after Kenny suffered a wheel slip.
And, despite success in Apeldoorn, British Cycling performance director Brailsford says the hard graft starts now with less than nine months before the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“There’s a lot of work to be done between now and Christmas. There’s nothing fancy, it’s hard, hard graft and real grit,” Brailsford told BBC Sport. “It’s a foundation; if you don’t get it right, you’re in trouble.”
He added: “Before Christmas we’ll go back and do some really hard work. There’s no time for messing about now, there can be no substitute for hard work and that’s what we’re going to do.
“This is critical and there is no excuse, no frills, no commercial pressures. It’s time to knuckle down and do some real hard yards.”
Geraint Thomas, who will miss the 2012 Tour de France to concentrate on the Olympic Games, helped Ed Clancy, Steven Burke and Andy Tennant qualify for the men’s team pursuit gold medal race, where Thomas was replaced by Sky team-mate Peter Kennaugh as Great Britain comfortably beat Denmark, albeit outside their target time.
“It was an ugly win, to use the footballing analogy, but you’ve got to get momentum and start winning – it breeds self-belief,” said Brailsford. “But we can be better than that. We know we can. We’ve got some work to do there.”
The women’s team pursuit trio produced an assured performance, however, with Jo Rowsell, Laura Trott and Dani King riding effortlessly to gold ahead of Germany, clocking a faster time than Trott, King and Wendy Houvenaghel did when winning the world title at the same venue in March.
Pendleton won individual sprint gold at the Beijing Olympics and will have a shot at three medals in London after the women’s programme was expanded to match the men’s, and the 31-year-old teamed up with Jess Varnish to win the team sprint, while also claiming keirin gold.
Matt Crampton claimed the men’s keirin title, while Ed Clancy and Laura Trott won the men’s and women’s omnium respectively.
The six-event omnium will debut at London 2012 and Clancy previously won the world title in 2010, although his European victory came on countback after his kilo time of 1.02.304 minutes left him deadlocked on points with France’s Bryan Coquard.
Nine of Great Britain’s squad will now travel to Kazakhstan for the first leg of the World Cup, then embarking on an intensive training block before London stages the series in February – the first event to be staged in the Olympic velodrome – with April’s World Championships in Melbourne providing the final test before the Games.
Australia will be Great Britain’s biggest rivals in London but Brailsford admits the team are on track after a dominant start to the season.
“It was important that we came away from this on a high,” said Brailsford. “When you take the overall event, we’ve come out with seven golds in the 10 Olympic disciplines, which is a good return.
“We didn’t really compete in one – the men’s team sprint where we had the mishap – and we’ll have to go back to the drawing board on the individual sprints. But, overall, it’s a good start to the season.”
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