British Cycling is facing a tough decision in the run up to the Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester. With an enviable strength in depth to their Team Sprint squad, a question mark hangs over the position of first man with three riders all in contention for the crucial lead-out spot.
Craig MacLean led the team to silver at the 2007 World Championships but Jamie Staff has always been snapping at his heels and emerging star Jason Kenny is now proving a serious threat to the lead-out position.
Indeed, Kenny stormed to victory in the sprint omnium at Revolution 19, beating World Sprint Champion Theo Bos in the process and clocking a remarkable 10.178 time in the 200m time trial.
Revolution 20, on February 23rd, will now play a crucial part in the selection process for the Team Sprint, with organisers agreeing to host a standing start 500m time trial to test the three contenders.
“The event will have a massive impact on who will be first man at the World Championships” commented British Cycling head coach Shane Sutton. “It is being done at Revolution specifically to simulate the competition environment.”
“We will have riders running behind the lead out men to really simulate the team sprint” he continued. “This is crucial as it will give an edge to it and really test how the riders peform under pressure.”
The riders are under no illusions on how important their performances will be with Olympic selection potentially on the line.
“This is serious head to head stuff and the coal face for selection for the Worlds” confirmed Sutton. “The rider who rides the worlds will definitely have a head start on Olympic selection so the riders know how important it is.”
The time trial is scheduled to take place at the beginning of the Revolution programme. Jason Kenny will be riding with Matt Crampton, Jamie Staff with Ross Edgar and Craig MacLean with Jason Queally.
More Team Sprint action will follow later in the programme with the French squad of Arnaud Tournant, Gregory Bauge and Mickael D’Almeida taking on the team of MacLean, Edgar and Hoy who were beaten by the French trio by two hundredths of a second at the Worlds in 2007.
Tickets and information for the event on February 23rd can be found on www.cyclingrevolution.com or by calling 0845 686 0105 or the Manchester Velodrome on 0161 223 2244.