Olympics postponement is ‘great opportunity’ to boost GB cyclists’ medal chances

Great Britain

Great Britain won just one gold medal at this year’s Track Cycling World Championships

The Olympic Games postponement is a great opportunity to boost GB’s medal chances in 2021, says British Cycling’s performance director Stephen Park.

The Games will now start on 23 July next year after being delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

GB have topped cycling’s medal table at the past three Games, but at February’s Track Cycling Worlds they registered their smallest return since 2000.

“We’re really disappointed that 2020 is not going to happen but there’s a feeling also that this extra 12 months is just what we need,” said Park.

In Berlin, Elinor Barker won the team’s only gold in the points race while the men’s sprint took silver behind the Netherlands and the team pursuit riders missed the podium as Denmark smashed the world record on the way to gold.

GB finished seventh overall which prompted six-time Olympic track cycling gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy to call for “significant change”.

“We’re really disappointed that 2020 is not going to happen, so we haven’t breathed a sigh of relief,” added Park.

“But it would be fair to say, yes, we do now have the opportunity to adapt training and set new expectations.

“Jason Kenny, who has the chance to become Great Britain’s most successful Olympian, is now saying ‘hang on, if we continue to progress [in the team sprint] over the next 12 months the way we have been, then we’re going to be in front of the Dutch.”

“Ed Clancy was due to retire after the summer but he too is thinking there’s enough time to do the work required in the team pursuit.”

The extra year will also give Laura Kenny the chance to recover properly from the injuries she sustained in various crashes at the World Championships.

“Laura is one of the best, if not the best in the world. Now it gives her some really good time to recover from those hard knocks,” said Park.

“Rather than feel she was on the back foot, she now feels she can give her body a chance to recover and be at her best in 2021.”

Progress is likely, however, to depend on coronavirus-related restrictions being lifted so that Park’s riders can once again use the National Cycling Centre facilities.

“There’s quite a big gym programme in addition to the track time, using a lot of specialist machinery, and there needs to be staff supervision to make sure it’s done effectively,” added Park.

“So, although we’ve done a pretty good job of making sure our riders have access to weights at home in addition to their daily rides, it is quite different to how it would be at the National Cycling Centre.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/52123436

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