European Track Championships: five observations

Great Britain’s gold rush on the track continued over the weekend as both the men’s and women’s pursuit teams achieved European success in Apeldoorn before Laura Trott claimed first place in the women’ omnium.

Great Britain also earned two silver and three bronze medals as a mix of Olympic champions and rising stars began a busy winter on the track in style.

Germany pipped the Brits to top spot in the medal table after securing three golds and three silvers, leaving plenty to ponder as Manchester prepares to welcome home their heroes for the opening round of the 2013-14 UCI Track World Cup next month.

Laura Trott – queen of the track

Laura Trott made a victorious return to the track in Apeldoorn after an impressive first season on the road. pic: ©Roz Jones

Looking at Laura Trott’s glittering palmares, it is hard to believe she only turned 21 in April. After another hugely successful weekend – repeating the two gold medals she won last time the European Championships were held in Apeldoorn – Trott now boasts five European gold medals to add to the two she won at the London Olympics, and her four World Championship victories. She has already proved herself as queen of the British track, scooping four victories at the national championships last month and she has now underlined her dominant position on the European stage too. While she has made an almost seamless transition into the Wiggle-Honda ranks on the road this year, Trott remains the undoubted star of British track cycling.

World junior TT champion Elinor Barker makes team pursuit squad a fab four

Elinor Barker made her team pursuit debut at the Glasgow round of the 2012/13 UCI World Cup, and rode to a gold medal at the European championships in Apeldoorn. pic: Simon Wilkinson/

When it was announced the women’s team pursuit event would change from three riders to four, there were questions as to what impact it would have on Great Britain’s world and Olympic champions and world record holders Trott, Joanna Rowsell and Dani King. They need not have worried however, having already seen world junior time trial champion Elinor Barker ease into the line-up to claim world championship gold in Minsk in February. The recently-turned 19-year-old’s inclusion in the four has now arguably only made it stronger. Having smashed the world record at the national championships, they were at it again on Friday as first Trott, Rowsell, Barker and Scotland’s Katie Archibald set a new record to reach the final before King replaced Rowsell for the final to help them shed another two seconds from their record on their way to yet another gold medal.

Search for Sir Chris Hoy’s replacement continues for the men’s team sprint squad

The retirement of a knight of the realm and arguably one of the greatest British track cyclists of all time was always going to leave a void to fill for the men’s team sprint squad. And so it proved in Apeldoorn as Olympic champions Jason Kenny and Phil Hindes, with their newest addition Kian Emadi-Coffin, not only missed out on a medal but failed even to qualify for the finals, finishing the qualifying round in sixth place. Kenny ended the weekend with bronze in the individual sprint and silver in the keirin, but question marks have been raised of the team sprint squad. All is not lost by any means – Matt Crampton, Lewis Oliva and Callum Skinner combined to earn a largely youthful British team their only medal at last year’s European Championships – but British Cycling will want to find their missing link sooner rather than later as attention starts to turn towards 2016 Olympic qualification.

No more Pendleton, but Becky James and Jess Varnish are heading in the right direction

Jess Varnish and Becky James, pictured here at the Glasgow round of the 2012-13 UCI Track World Cup, claimed bronze at the European championships in Apeldoorn. pic: Alex Broadway/

Victoria Pendleton was another huge loss to Team GB as the sprint queen climbed off the saddle for the final time at the London Games. But her replacement, Becky James, and former team sprint companion, Jess Varnish, have made an encouraging start to life together. Although they only finished third in Apeldoorn, it is yet another medal for the British duo to follow two World Cup successes last season. As well as having racked up a number of individual successes, with time on their side to perfect their performances, it is not just the team pursuit ladies who look set for continued success on the track.

Fan-chester: why Team GB can expect a rousing reception at next month’s opening round of the UCI Track World Cup

Competitive cycling return’s to British Cycling’s HQ next month as the opening round of the 2013/14 Track World Cup heads to Manchester’s Velodrome. With sporting success becoming a recurrent theme for the patch of East Manchester that also houses Manchester City Football Club, the Brits will be welcomed back home to the same heroes’ reception they received in London for the Olympics. Having already put on a show for their adoring fans at the national championships, tickets for the major sessions of the weekend sold out in less than a week – making it Manchester’s fastest selling global cycling event ever – and with a partisan crowd expected inside, expect the roof of the iconic velodrome to be lifted and then some when the Brits are in action.

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