Monthly Archives: September 2011

Cyclists target 2012 test places

Victoria Pendleton

Victoria Pendleton hopes to have three shots at Olympic gold in 2012

Britain’s track cyclists enter the final phase of their battle to reach the London 2012 Olympics at this week’s national championships in Manchester.

Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton are among those competing.

Many riders are targeting a place in the GB team for February’s 2012 test event at the new Olympic velodrome.

“I think the London test event team will be the Olympic team,” said Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead. “So it’s going to be a fight to get into it.”

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We have to win team pursuit gold at London 2012. It’s win or nothing

Steven Burke
Beijing 2008 bronze-medallist

Next month’s European Championships in the Netherlands and the 2012 World Championships in Melbourne are other key dates for the British team.

The London test event doubles as a major World Cup event and carries Olympic qualifying significance – as well as providing a first opportunity to race on the 2012 track.

This week’s racing in Manchester will help to determine the team for the European Championships, with the most important races in Olympic categories being staged from Friday to Sunday.

Hoy and Pendleton are both set to race on all three days.

“This week is a good stepping stone to see where I’m at. It’s a good indicator,” said Steven Burke, a bronze medallist at Beijing 2008 and member of the three-man pursuit team which won bronze at the 2011 World Championships.

Britain won team pursuit gold in Beijing but Australia have dominated the event over the last two years.

Burke, 23, added: “We’ve got the Europeans coming up, the Olympic test event and the Worlds. That’s only three competitions before the Olympics.

“It’s about time we started beating the Australians again. We need to start winning and getting that morale going again.

“We have to win team pursuit gold at London 2012. It’s win or nothing.”

The track squad has two concerns as the new season begins: earning qualifying points which open up places for British riders at the Games, and fighting to be selected to take up those places inside the Olympic velodrome.

Riders have already had a year to earn qualifying points and Britain is ranked among the top four nations for each of the 10 Olympic events – barring the women’s omnium, where GB are currently seventh.

That form must be maintained and, beyond that, internal competition is exceptionally fierce for every event.

Hoy, 35, has recently been bested by younger compatriot Jason Kenny, 23, in the sprint. That was one of three gold medals the Scot won at Beijing 2008.

But, under new rules for London 2012, British Cycling can only choose one of them for the event at the Games.

The women’s and men’s team pursuit squads each have seven or eight serious contenders for just three or four places respectively in their starting line-ups.

Sprinter Jess Varnish, who won the women’s 500m time trial title on the opening night of this year’s nationals, said: “I’ve got to make myself be on that team [for London in February].

“I’m going for that with everything I’ve got.”

Varnish is looking to cement her place alongside Pendleton in the women’s team sprint, with Australia their main rivals for Olympic gold next year.

“We’re not just going after Australia, we’re going after the whole world,” she added.

“I’ve got Europeans coming up and I’m doing the first World Cup in Kazakhstan. I’ve got to show that I mean business there.”

Sam Harrison, who broke into the senior ranks last season but now faces a fight with better-established team-mates to reach the Games, added: “They’re going to take the best team to the London World Cup.

“It will be a sort-of preview six months out from the Olympics. If you get into that team, it’ll be a real confidence boost going into the World Championships.”

Meanwhile, in Thursday’s races Matt Rotherham won the men’s one kilometre time trial and in the process became the first rider to win both a senior and junior title in the same year with pursuit champion Steven Burke second.

Former world team pursuit champion Joanna Rowsell won gold in the women’s individual pursuit, while Paralympic cyclist Jon-Allen Butterworth broke a world record in clocking 10.897secs to take gold in the MC5 category 200m time trial.

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Varnish wins British 500m title

Jess Varnish

Varnish won team sprint silver at the 2011 World Championships in Apeldoorn

World team sprint silver medallist Jess Varnish won the 500m time trial title on day one of the British National Track Championships in Manchester.

Varnish, 20, set a lifetime best of 34.5 seconds to beat a fine early time from world team pursuit champion Laura Trott, with Becky James in second.

Olympic bronze medallist Steven Burke won the open pursuit title in three minutes 59.758 seconds.

Jon Allen Butterworth set a new world best of 1.07.459 for the MC5 category.

Varnish and Victoria Pendleton just missed out on world team sprint gold as Australian Anna Meares won her third straight world championship title in the Netherlands in March.

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I can win Tour and Olympics

Bradley Wiggins

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Wiggins wants big wins next year

Briton Bradley Wiggins is confident he can win both the Tour de France and Olympic gold in 2012.

Wiggins, 31, was in contention at this year’s Tour but was forced to retire with a broken collarbone after a crash.

He told BBC Sport: “The Tour won’t be there for me for ever and the opportunity I have to win is so great that I can’t afford to miss another year.

“I believe I can win the Tour and Olympic gold. I want it all next year.”

Wiggins pointed to his results this season – including victory in the Criterium du Dauphine in June and third place at the Tour of Spain – to support his argument, while insisting the best was yet to come.

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It all comes from within – we are all capable of changing ourselves

Bradley Wiggins
Team Sky rider

“At this stage I seem to be getting better all the time and I’m not conscious of time running out. I want to keep progressing on the gains I’ve made,” said Wiggins, who was speaking at the official opening of the TeamGB and ParalympicsGB shop in Westfield Stratford City.

“I’m very close at the moment and I’m coming into my prime as an athlete.

“In two years’ time I might have had enough of it and walk away. If I win the Tour next year I certainly will not want to go back and win it again.”

Given that Wiggins has won three Olympic track gold medals and came close to a podium place in the 2009 Tour, the Team Sky rider revealed he has “never really been put the work in before”.

“It’s taken a long time to get the maturity as an athlete to realise what it takes to compete at this level,” said Wiggins, who won a World silver in the time trial in Copenhagen last week.

“In the past I’ve done a lot on pure talent and short periods of hard work

“In the last few years the Tour has opened things up for me as to what the human body is capable of and how good you can be.”

Wiggins, who finished fourth in the 2009 tour, added that he had “a massive wake-up call 12 months ago” – a reference to the 2010 Tour when he finished 24th.

He said: “This time last year I would never have imagined having the season I’ve had by constantly evolving and constantly making gains.

“It’s not an age thing, these are the prime years. It’s more the mental thing – how long can you sustain that high level of concentration and intensity of training that goes with it?”

Wiggins insisted his new-found intensity would enable him successfully challenge for the Tour, which finishes on 22 July, before he turns his attention to the Olympics, with the time trial race scheduled for 1 August and the team pursuit beginning the following day.

And Wiggins, who helped Team GB win the team pursuit at the Beijing Olympics and played a key part in Mark Cavendish’s world road race win in Copenhagen, hopes that demanding schedule might work in his favour as he would not have to train for “two peaks”.

He said: “It’s not that one takes more importance over the other. I want everything in my life and I wouldn’t compromise one over the other by trying to do both.”

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Thomas sees Cavendish at Team Sky

Mark Cavendish

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Cavendish sprints to World title

Geraint Thomas wants Britain’s newly crowned world road race champion Mark Cavendish to join him at Team Sky.

Cavendish’s current professional team HTC-Highroad is dissolving at the end of the year, and the Isle of Man rider has already decided which team to join.

When asked if Cavendish was joining Sky, Thomas told BBC Sport: “I hope so.

“He has proved he’s the fastest in the world and to have him in the team would be amazing. To lead him out, week in week out, would be special.”

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Cavendish and David Millar were the only members of the eight-strong British team in Copenhagen who do not ride professionally for Team Sky.

Thomas, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Steve Cummings, Jeremy Hunt and Ian Stannard are all on the books of the team that only began to compete in January 2010.

Welshman Thomas played a pivotal role in helping Cavendish find a perfect position on the road, after 266km of racing, to launch himself to victory and said it was a pleasure to lead out his team-mate.

“He’s a great leader and he lets you know exactly what he wants to do,” the 25-year-old stated. “It makes your job so much easier.

“[The final sprint] was pretty dodgy. There were quite a few guys who wouldn’t have had too much work to do in the race, so there were a few fresh legs around but we’re used to that sort of thing and we finished it off.

“Seeing Cavendish cross the line with his hands in the air was a great feeling and we all felt we had a good role to play in that. It was an amazing day.”

Thomas is set to put his road racing aspirations on hold next year though as he focuses his attentions on defending the Olympic team pursuit title he won in Beijing.

“The Olympics is my main goal [in 2012],” he said.

“The home Olympics doesn’t come round every day and to be in with a chance of winning the team pursuit on the track. I want to give that 100%.

“The Tour de France may not jeopardise my chances, but it’s an added risk so I will probably miss it.”

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GB boss hails ‘mind-blowing’ team

Mark Cavendish

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Cavendish sprints to victory in Copenhagen

British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford believes Mark Cavendish’s world road race win in Denmark was the product of the best team display in living memory.

Cavendish became the first British rider to win cycling’s most prestigious one-day race for 46 years on Sunday.

His victory margin was a matter of inches but that belies the true extent of the British team’s dominance.

“The win is great but it’s how they won that’s so impressive,” said Brailsford.

“A performance like that has never been seen before – it was mind-blowing.”

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It’s like football, Cav scored the goal but it was an amazing team effort

David Brailsford
British Cycling performance director

Brailsford’s praise for Cavendish’s seven team-mates is well deserved as the Isle of Man star would not have been in position to do what he does best without them.

On a flat course, every other nation knew their best chance was to avoid the kind of bunch sprint “the Manx Missile” has made his own in recent years.

So this meant the British team, the strongest ever assembled, had to control the race in Copenhagen from the front of the main pack.

The eight-man GB line-up ignored all breakaways to control the peloton over the 165.2-mile (266km) course, delivering Cavendish to the finish in ideal fashion.

“You do this by riding very fast for almost six hours,” explained Brailsford.


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I can’t believe Mark Cavendish managed to deliver with the amount of pressure he’s been under.

Britain had to do the work all day, and it beggars belief how he continues to produce finishes.

Steve Cummings and Chris Froome laid it down early and then Bradley Wiggins chased the leaders down from the front of the peloton.

To go out there, let everyone know your plans in advance, then execute was incredible to see. The British team delivered the result.

GB team hails ‘historic’ Worlds

“Everybody played their part but special credit must go to team captain David Millar for keeping it all together and that final lap by Bradley Wiggins was just incredible.

“He rode at about 55kph (34mph) and nobody could go anywhere – they just couldn’t get past him.

“So it’s like football, Cav scored the goal but it was an amazing team effort.”

Brailsford, who also runs the Team Sky professional team Cavendish is expected to join next year, said this was probably British Cycling’s greatest triumph.

“We have had a lot of success on the track, in BMX, in downhill mountain bikes and so on, but the men’s road race is massive,” said Brailsford.

“It’s been a long time coming but we deserve it and so does Mark. He took me aside at the beginning of the week and told me ‘I’m going to win this’ and he did. That’s the kind of guy he is.”

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