The second day of the final round of the UCI Track World Cup will see Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, and Jason Kenny among the British athletes competing at the London velodrome today.
Four-time Olympic champion, Hoy, and world champion, Kenny, will ride with Ross Edgar in the men’s team sprint, while Pendleton, winner of the sprint gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games and multiple world champion, will be paired with Jess Varnish in the women’s team sprint.
And Great Britain could claim its first team pursuit medal of the meeting today when Laura Trott, Wendy Houvenaghel, Joanna Rowsell, take on Canada in the final of the women’s event.
Hoy said Great Britain’s untested line-up in the men’s team sprint, with Edgar riding ‘man one’, would face a strong challenge from the French and German squad.
“It’s a new formation. In theory it should be pretty good. I am not saying it will be amazing. The Germans are really setting the pace at the moment and it will be a big challenge to beat them and the French with this formation at its current stage. It’s pointing toward the direction we want to go in the rest of the year though,” he said.
Hoy said Edgar was fully recovered from injury and had embraced the challenge of leading out the team sprint squad.
“He is fine. He missed 10 days worth so it has a slight knock on effect because of that but in terms of injuries he is absolutely 100 per cent. He is looking forward to his first challenge of being ‘man one’. In previous years it has been the keirin, the sprint and the team sprit, being ‘man two’ or ‘man three’. Now he is training for an entirely different challenge. He is entirely focused on this one thing so hopefully he is going to respond to that and we are going to see some good times,” said Hoy.
Varnish and Pendleton will hope their close working relationship on and off the track helps them to see off the challenge of Australia and China.
Varnish said: “It’s really good to train with Vicky because I had a poster in my room only about six years ago when I was a teenager living at home. Now I’m in the team sprint and I’ve got to lead her out – pretty fast as well – so it’s good. It’s amazing to work alongside an Olympic champion and to be in the same team as her, so it’s really exciting. We get on really well, so it makes it a lot easier,” she said.
Varnish said arriving at the London velodrome had given her a new awareness of the scale of the occasion, but warned that the closing round of the world cup was a “stepping stone” to the world championships in April and to the Olympic Games in August.
“When you first walk into the Velodrome and you’re at the Olympic Park, it does just really feel real. I’ve been thinking about competing at the London World Cup for a long time now. Now it’s actually here, you’ve got to pinch yourself and think it’s very soon now,” she said. “You’ve got to look at it like it’s all part of your training, really – it’s just a stepping stone to the Olympics. You’ve got to compete here and get points to get you to the Olympics. You’ve not really tapered for it because obviously you’ve got Worlds five or six weeks away anyway. That’s obviously a bigger thing. Even though this is at the Olympic Velodrome, you’ve still got to get to Worlds and hopefully the Olympics,” she said.
Ben Swift, who races on the road for Team Sky in professional cycling’s elite WorldTour, will roll out today in the velodrome to represent Great Britain in the omnium. British Cycling’s head coach, Shane Sutton, praised Swift’s versatility, but added that he was worried the Yorkshireman had not rediscovered his best form on the track.
“It’s a difficult one for Ben at this moment in time. That concerns me, that Ben just hasn’t hit his straps in this block. He just hasn’t come back to the boards the way I thought he would have,” said Sutton.
As well as racing tonight in the final of the women’s team pursuit, Laura Trott will ride in the women’s omnium. Dani King will compete in the women’s scratch race.
Check back later for results.