Excitement growing ahead of start of Track World Cup series
PUBLISHED: 12:00 17 October 2018
Simon Wilkinson - email@example.com
Round four to take place in London in December
Great Britain Cycling Team Performance Director, Stephen Park, admits excitement for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is growing, as his track squad prepare for a Tissot UCI Track World Cup series which will see them take on the world’s best on home soil.
The series gets underway in Paris this weekend, and takes in rounds in Canada and Berlin before descending on London’s Lee Valley Velodrome between December 14 and 16.
As the penultimate track season before Tokyo 2020, the World Cup series will see riders compete for qualifying points for the Olympic Games, something which Park says adds a new dimension to the mood around the squad.
“Qualifying points being available really focuses the minds of our coaches and riders,” he says.
“We’re really beginning to feel that excitement now growing within the team – for the first two years of an Olympic cycle you’re slowly building, but now we’re really beginning to accelerate the programme towards Tokyo.
“Competition to get into our Olympic team will be incredibly tough, which means at every training session and every race, there’s now that little edge of everyone trying to show what they can do.
“That creates an excitement within the team, along with that internal competition that we believe is essential to make sure we get our riders to put in those last little bits of efforts to get in a position where we have the strongest possible team representing Great Britain in 2020.”
British Cycling has named the squads which will compete in the first two rounds of the Tissot UCI Track World Cup series, with the teams for both boasting an exciting blend of decorated, experienced riders and exciting up-and-coming talent.
Park continues: “We’ve got that great mix of youth, experience and enthusiasm in the squad.
“We’ve got riders who’ve been to one, two or maybe even three Olympic Games and then some who are really pushing for positions to be first-time Olympians.
“Those riders who have come through out pathway programme more recently are really creating that upward pressure on the more experienced riders and challenging for those positions in the team.”
This competition for places is perhaps most evident in Great Britain’s women’s endurance squad, where the likes of Emily Kay, Neah Evans, Manon Lloyd, Emily Nelson and Ellie Dickinson have all stepped up to the mark post-Rio, and are now challenging Olympic champions Laura Kenny, Katie Archibald and Elinor Barker for places across the three Olympic endurance events.
“Within our women’s endurance programme we’ve got a bit of an embarrassment of riches,” Park added.
“Laura’s return (following the birth of her first child) adds great experience, as do Katie and Elinor, although they’re all still incredibly young.
“Then, the likes of Ellie, Neah, Emily, Manon and Emily have all emerged and are also fighting for places in Tokyo. It puts us in a great place, and it’s going to serve us well not just for 2020 for also for Paris in 2024.”
Round four will take place at the Lee Valley Velodrome between December 14 and 16. Tickets can be purchased here.