Since Sir Chris Hoy rode off into retirement, the race has been on to claim the Man 3 spot in the GB men’s team sprint squad. Man 1 and 2 seem pretty well set with Olympic champs Phil Hindes and Jason Kenny, but half way through the Olympic cycle Man 3 remains a problem.
Four men are fighting it out for the spot – incumbent Callum Skinner, World champs rider Kian Emadi, veteran Matt Crampton and Welshman Lewis Oliva.
Emadi has the fastest times for the third lap, and aided by altitude, he has actually gone faster than Hoy, but at sea-level he’s more than half a second on both Hoy’s times, and those of the leading riders from the other countries. Skinner has also come close to 13-flat with an altitude boost, but has yet to post anything close to Sir Chris is normal conditions. Oliva has had relatively few rides but is a tenth slower than Skinner on the same high altitude Guadlajara track.
At sea-level, Crampton is the second fastest Brit ever at 13.44, but that was five and a half years ago, and his 13.538 at altitude in Aguascalientes last winter does not suggest he’s going in the right direction.
While the situation seems a little desperate, Cyclostats believes that all is far from lost and clearly both Emadi and Skinner are capable of significantly better times than they’ve shown to date. In normal conditions, and in top form, both Emadi and Skinner have shown they should be in the low 61s for the Kilo (Emadi has to date gone 61.368 and Skinner 61.843 and improving fast.) That puts them within a second of Hoy’s best, or within 0.25 on a one-lap basis. Hoy went 12,987 in the London Olympics, so the analysis would indicate that Emadi and Hoy might get close to 13.2 if all went well.
Of course, the analysis is not perfect, and it’s quite possible that Hoy was actually quicker in kilo terms in 2012 than he was when he won Olympic gold in 2004. If he was in 60-flat shape, that might imply that on a one-lap basis, the two pretenders are 0.4-0.5 off Hoy on paper.
Still, a 13.3 or 13.4 would put GB in a better place than they found themselves in London today, and would be something to build on for Rio. Time for the new wave to really show what they can do.