It goes without saying that the Brits were disappointing in both the men’s and women’s Team Sprint at the World Champs in Paris. Eight spot just over a year out from the Olympics has to be a major concern for Shane Sutton and his team, even if Jason Kenny played down the mens’ problems.
Callum Skinner’s difficult in “getting on” has of course been the major focus of the postmortem. There is no doubt that Man 3 remains a major problem with none of the contenders – Skinner, Kian Emadi, Matt Crampton or Lewis Oliva convincing in Chris Hoy’s old role. In fact, none has excelled sufficiently to dismiss the notion that GB may have been better persevering with Ed Clancy, who experimented with a switch to the team Sprint after the London Olympics. Clancy posted a 13.5 in Glasgow, his only real crack at the discipline and though he gave up on the event due to his own perceived lack of progress, its difficult not to think that had he continued he might be around the 13.3 mark by now. That’s 0.4 better than Skinner managed in Paris and quicker than any of the contenders have posted without altitude assistance.
But the Man 3 spot should not be the sole focus of the inquest. Though Jan van Eijden said “”Phil and Jason both delivered what we were looking for…” one has to wonder if the standards are perhaps a touch low. While its true that Hindes was pulling a bigger gear to try and make it a bit easier for Skinner to get on, his 17.453 hardly lit up the Paris track. He was 7th fastest on the day and two tenths off his Olympic best from 2012. Kenny fared better. His 12.557 was 3rd fastest of the day, which is impressive given that he had a slower lead in that most (although Kevin Sireau knocked out a 12.43 off of Gregory Bauge’s 17.588…). Kenny’s sea-level best of 12.339 from London looks in range, which is one positive for Team GB at least.
As for the women, 8th spot does not represent such a huge disappointment, but hardly helps dispel the view that without a quick return to health for Becky James, GB’s hopes of a medal in the sprints in Rio are close to zero.
Jess Varnish does not appear to be progressing in Man 1. She was 7th fastest here with 19.037, a far cry from the 18.7s she clocked in 2012. Vicky Williamson was also 7th quickest on her leg and her 14.546 was actually a decent showing, but overall, without James, the Brits are just a little under-powered.