6 golds, 11 medals for GB on track

It says something when a 6-gold, 11-total medal haul represents the weakest performance in the velodrome since 2004. Make no mistake, this was one of GB’s most impressive showings, winning a medal in every event we were entered.

Every member of the team who rode (thoughts to Ciarra Horne and Ryan Owens) won a medal and Calumm Skinner in the kierin was the only time a Brit entered a race and didn’t stand on the podium.

With less time trial based events on the schedule that in previous games, results were less controllable and yet Team GB controlled them nonetheless.

Once the men’s Team Sprint sped around in the qualifying round the writing was on the wall for the rest of the world. If one member of the team is on fire, so will the rest is the lesson we’ve learnt over and over.

Jason Kenny and Laura Trott were the two biggest stars taking their individual golden totals to six and four respectively. The most pleasing results were surely those of Becky James who came back from injury and the cancer scare to win to silvers. Given the form she was in it was almost surprising she didn’t take gold.

In a couple of years when GB is struggling to medal at World Champs, we need to remember that the fabled “GB Olympic boost” is very real, and there’s no reason to think it won’t magically reappear in Tokyo.

 

 

 

James and Marchant 1-2 in qualifying

 

Rebecca James 10.721 Olympics Rio 14-Aug-16
Victoria Pendleton 10.724 Olympic Games London 5-Aug-12
Katy Marchant 10.787 Olympics Rio 14-Aug-16
Jess Varnish 10.804 World Champs Paris 20-Feb-15
Victoria Williamson 10.833 World Cup Guadlajara 9-Nov-14

Impressive stuff from Becky James and Katy Marchant in Rio. Top two qualifiers and pbs to boot. For James, her 10.721 represents a British sea-level best. She also owns the outright record at 10.627 from Aguescalientes in 2013. Top 5 t seal-level above.

GB Olympic boost strikes again

Every four years something magical happens for British track cyclists. After four years of mediocre performances, the men’s team sprint shot out of no where for gold in Rio yesterday.

Having struggled to replace Chris Hoy on Man 3, Callum Skinner, whose individual times indicated the potential, got it right on the night with a sub-13 lap to bring the Brits (Phil Hindes and Jason Kenney having established a lead) home in the final ahead of pre-race favorites New Zealand.

Jason Kenny put in he fastest lap as man 2 and will now be the big favorite for the men’s sprint which starts today, and possibly for the kierin too. Keep an eye out for Skinner too, a British 1-2 isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.

Manx records for Cav

Some time ago, Cyclostats speculated on a dream omnium in which the best endurance riders in Britain would race each other to determine who really is the best all rounder on the track. This past weekend in Derby, we got as close as we might ever get to the real thing as many of GB’s top riders faced off over six events. In particular, the contest brought together GB’s most successful omnium rider in Ed Clancy, its most recent hope for the event in Jon Dibben and its theoretical superstar of the event, the great Mark Cavendish. As it was, Clancy came out on top in a thrilling contest , with Cav in second and Dibben in fourth, one spot behind the promising Chris Latham,

The most intriguing aspect was seeing how Cavendish performed against the clock. As far as we can tell, Cav has not competed in a flying lap, a kilo or a IP since he was a junior. In most cases, his times were close to what we expected. A 4:26 in the IP was probably on the better side of what we anticipated given his limited preparation time. He supposedly went low 4:20s in training prior to the Beijing Olympics but he was in peak track form back then. He just missed out on Pete Kennaugh’s Manx record and moved to 21st spot of the all-time GB list. His 13.352 flying lap, including a 10.619 200, was right on par and represented an Isle of Man record – the first time a Manx man has been sub-11 in fact. His kilo came in at 1:05.282, which was solid, and another Manx best, supplanting Joe Kelly. Ironically, it was the bunch events which cost Cav victory over Clancy. We expected the Scratch to be Cavendish’s forte, but he placed down the field in that first event, and it was always going to be a tough road back. Latham performed particularly badly in the Scratch, and had he managed even a mid-pack finish, he would have challenged Clancy for victory.

So what does it all mean for GB’s Omnium selection? Probably not too much. There was enough in Cav’s debut to encourage him to have another go, but there are still huge question marks as to whether he can mix the Olympics with his road schedule. In any case he’ll need significant improvement to challenge at World level. One can easily imagine him challenging the best in the Scratch and even the elimination and points race, but he’ll need to find more on the timed events too.  He placed well in those in Derby, but if you compare times were those set at the World champs, he’d have been well outside the top 10 in both the lap and kilo, and that would likely spell the end of his overall hopes in Rio. Clancy, therefore, remains the safest bet, but it will be interesting to see if GB experiments with Latham or even Matt Gibson during the World Cup season.