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Track Worlds 2011: Panic stations for Britain?

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Ollie Williams | 17:01 UK time, Sunday, 27 March 2011

Apeldoorn, the Netherlands

British track cycling world titles tumbled in the Apeldoorn velodrome all week as Australia asserted themselves in style.

Sir Chris Hoy, Ed Clancy and Victoria Pendleton all lost theirs, and all three - the men's keirin, men's omnium and women's sprint - went to Australian rivals.

Britain finished the week with one gold medal, in the women's team pursuit. Australia will board their long-haul flight home with no fewer than eight. The last fell to Pendleton's arch-rival Anna Meares in the keirin, Pendleton having exited in the second round.

Those bare facts sound like grim reading for the British team, a year away from their home Olympics, facing intense pressure to reproduce - as far as is possible - their incredible performance at the Beijing Games.

So what can we conclude from the 2011 Track World Championships? Are Australia now unstoppable at London 2012? Can things be turned around in the next 12 months? Is it fair to start panicking about British track cycling?

The answer is no: not yet, and probably not until the Games themselves. Britain believe they are playing the long game.

 

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That is not to say they will roar back to life come 2012, leaving the Australians spent in the London velodrome dust and spring atop the podium in all 10 Olympic events. But nor does the medals table in the Netherlands tell the whole story.

Not every event at track cycling's World Championships is replicated in the Olympics - in fact, almost half of the world titles awarded this week have no Olympic bearing at all (there are 19 events here, and 10 at London 2012).

The British and Australians have differing approaches to track cycling: Britain focus solely on Olympic events, hoping to maximise bang for buck given that Olympic results drive funding, whereas Australia goes out to win the lot.

Counting only Olympic events, Britain won one gold medal here and eight medals in total. Australia won six gold medals, but no silver or bronze medals.

Six gold medals to one is a pretty hefty tally in favour of Australia, but British cyclists won more medals in more Olympic events.

Now factor in the changes to the Olympic rules for 2012, which mean nations can only enter one cyclist (or team of cyclists) into each event. Previously it was two, and the one-per-nation limit is not in force at the World Championships.

It's hard to accurately correct the medals table for this, because the rule means some cyclists who won medals here probably wouldn't even have raced were this an Olympic Games, as they wouldn't have been selected in the first place. But, very arbitrarily, let's remove Hoy's sprint bronze medal from the equation, since he finished behind Jason Kenny. The Australians won no more than a single medal in each event, so it doesn't affect them.

Now we have Britain winning a medal in seven different events, and Australia in six. Compare that to the 2010 World Championships in Denmark, where Britain won three gold medals and eight overall in Olympic events (and it remains eight, correcting for the one-per-nation rule); Australia again won five medals, three of them gold. Australia have narrowed the gap in Apeldoorn, but it looks better for GB than a simple eight-to-one gold-medal comparison.

That statistic should give British Cycling some comfort. Its cyclists are consistently winning medals in a large spread of Olympic events and that will provide a solid base from which to build in the next year. The important thing now is to ensure that British cyclists peak - physically, mentally, and in terms of their track form - in the summer of 2012.

Hoy made exactly this point about his own performance after finishing second in the men's keirin, behind Australia's Shane Perkins.

"My legs don't feel quite as sharp as they often do but, to get a silver medal in the keirin, and to show the consistency to get three medals this week - that's not bad," he said.

"Every medal is so hard-fought that I'm proud of this silver medal - it's still a good ride. We'll go away, lick our wounds and get ourselves ready for next year. There's more work to come and improvements for next year. No matter what happens in London, it'll be our best-ever performance."

It's also hard to overstate just how well everything went for Britain in Beijing. The British team are trying to live up to a benchmark set during a week in China where GB had the rub of the green, and then some. There was barely a setback: nothing went wrong.

That is not something you can train for, rely upon, predict or activate. It either happens or it doesn't. Had Clancy not withdrawn through illness, he may have defended his omnium world title in Apeldoorn. Had Lizzie Armitstead been fit to travel, she may have won a medal in the women's equivalent. These same issues could dog the British team at London 2012, or they may sail through unhindered.

On a similar note, many Australians believe they are in the form of their lives right now - at precisely the moment some Britons are thinking the opposite.

"I've spent so long trying to get this darned thing," sighed Australia's Meares moments after beating Pendleton to the world sprint title for the first time. "I've been in this sport for nearly 17 years, a senior elite cyclist for 10, and I'm just starting to get the best results out of myself."

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At the same time, Pendleton said: "I'm not in the best form but I'm working on a two-year plan. I've been in every semi-final since 2003, so I don't think that's a bad run. Anna Meares is in the form of her life and I'm not but don't write me off."

All this cannot hide the fact that results in Apeldoorn have disappointed the British team, and this is no apologia for their strategy. Britain would rather spend every major championships on top of the medals table with Australia and the rest trailing far behind, as happened in both 2007 and 2008 ahead of the Beijing Games.

In those two World Championships, Britain won 16 gold medals to Australia's two in all competitions. Australia went on to win just one silver medal in the velodrome at Beijing 2008.

Small wonder that now, preparing for London, they are back with a vengeance. Australia's medals tally here mightily outclasses the British one, that cannot be disguised. Britain's dominance in Beijing had the inevitable effect of galvanising every other track cycling power to come back and do a lot better at the next Olympic Games, which happen to be taking place on British soil. 

Frenchman Gregory Bauge, the man who beat Hoy and Kenny to sprint gold here, calls it his "appointment for 2012". He told me: "Britain set a challenge to the whole French team. For me, Saturday was just one more step towards that appointment."

Bauge and his France team-mates won both the sprint and team sprint here and have now finished ahead of Britain in both events at each of the last three World Championships.

However, one last thing remain in Britain's favour: the velodrome itself.

About the only thing this Apeldoorn track did rapidly was establish itself as a very slow, sticky surface. "Like wading through treacle," one official observed. This has been the easiest week the record books have had in a long while.

London's track is expected to be much quicker, and Hoy himself had a hand in the design. Yes, everybody rides on the same track regardless of speed so the advantage can never be that great, but - as former GB sprint cyclist Craig MacLean said - the speed of a track can have an unsettling psychological effect. Britain can hope to master that ahead of 2012. It may only give them another 0.01% over their rivals, but the British mantra has always been adding up the small gains to make a big one.

BBC co-commentator Chris Boardman, the 1992 Olympic pursuit champion, said: "I think 'disappointed by not overly concerned' would probably be the way to sum it up. You can see where the progression is coming from."

The line British Cycling has stuck to for a while now is that this is a long, gradual build-up process ahead of 2012, and it's senseless peaking beforehand or worrying about 2011 results when the London Olympics are what matters. They will keep their appointment, but have no desire to turn up early.

"You can't keep the same intensity for four years. What has happened this weekend is not comfortable but it's healthy," said Dave Brailsford, the British performance director. "We will go back, do our planning, do our reviews and get back into it.

"We are not concerned about other nations at the moment. I wouldn't be overly concerned by the Australians. There's nothing in it."

The problem is, under those terms, it's almost impossible to judge if the plan is working until the Games finish. Only once we know the final Olympic medals table will we know if the Brits had it right all along. If that table looks like the one in Apeldoorn, Australia's approach will be vindicated.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I think you have a point with some of those stats but for me this is an important world championship because its the one before Olympic year. I had a look at the world championship in 2007 and in that one Britain won 7 golds 4 of those in Olympic events (Indivdual Pursuit, Team Pursuit, Keirin for men and Sprint for women) and they built on that in 2008. However for me they are playing catchup, I get what they are saying about peeking but the Aussie's and French are now confident that they can get better in the next year as well and nothing breeds confidence then success.

    A couple of concerns for me would be Team Pursuit that we have not got Wiggins or Thomas because of road commitments and therefore no settled team. Are they going to have much time to train togethor?

    Also I think that Hoy and Pendleton should both drop an event. Sprint in his case and Keirin in hers because I think that they both may have had their peak in their careers and now should concentrate on their best events.

    Despite this I do think we will win more then 1 Gold on the track at the Olympics and a return of 2/3 golds at a home Olympics would be an success.

  • Comment number 2.

    Nice piece Ollie. The comparisons with the Aussies and the French is very insightful. The Brits really set a new benchmark in Beijing but Dave Brailsford is a smart cookie and I have no doubt he knows what he's doing. Also the set up British Cycling has seems to be one where the athletes work hard as a team to beat each other....without huge amounts of friction. I look forward to watching the team grow over the coming months.

  • Comment number 3.

    Its a shame that performances and results are driven by funding, rather than the need and drive to excel and become a Champion. Devoting all efforts towards the Olympics would be laudable if the same desire was there for all ranking events, not just one. There should be but one "plan": to win, or to strive to win, whatever the event. Cycling policy sounds as if it is decided by economists and administrators, not the athletes themselves.

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm sure cycling's officials will be concerned. They have to justify their huge funding from UK sport and deliver gold medals in 2012. The pressure is on.

  • Comment number 5.

    Promising statistics Ollie, lets hope Britain delivers come 2012

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.


    TRACK WORLDS 2011: GB's SUTTON AIMS TO SHOCK AUSTRALIA

    British Cycling's head coach says Great Britain could stun arch-rivals Australia at this week's track cycling World Championships in the Netherlands.

    GB's grip on the podium loosened after the Beijing Games, with Australia the chief beneficiaries, but Shane Sutton expects a British revival in Apeldoorn.

    "I think Australia will get a bit of a shock this time around," Sutton told BBC Sport.

    "They won't have it all their own way, we've got our house in order now."

    Australia won SIX gold medals and racked up 10 medals in total at last year's World Championships in Denmark, streets ahead of a British team which came second with nine medals in total, THREE of them gold.

    It was a similar story in Poland two years ago, when Australia again topped the medal table with 10 podium finishes, including FOUR wins. Britain's TWO golds, four silvers and three bronze medals left them THIRD behind France.

    But Sutton, believes the British team is now capable of challenging again as their bid for Olympic glory on a home track in 2012 nears the final straight.

    "I feel we're in a really good place and I'd like to sit down on 28 March and confirm that, but I can't do that now because I can't foresee it," he said.

    Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/cycling/9431748.stm


    Heehee ;)


  • Comment number 8.

    Sorry, but there seems be a huge amount of 'spin' being employed here by commentators.

    At this point in the Olympic cycle, the British team should be doing a lot better. To only gain one gold medal at the championships is simply not good enough particularly the amount of funding has gone into this sport at the expense of others.

    It's a bit worrying we are still relying on Hoy and Pendleton and not enough opportunities for the youngsters to come through.

    The team need stopping messing about having Sky Teams and the like. The management need to get everyone to identify under one British team and develop some cohesion and to get down to the grindstone.

    Hoping that it will 'come all together on the night' is a dangerous attitude, as some people are suggesting.

  • Comment number 9.

    Honestly! Unbelievable comments here! BBC's cycling 'expert' Ollie Williams reckons "Australia have narrowed the gap in Apeldoorn". Narrowed the gap? Australia 8 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze; Great Britain 1 gold, 3 silver, 5 bronze. Great stuff GB! 4 more bronze medals than Australia! GB! GB! GB! Go for bronze in 2012!

  • Comment number 10.

    Let's wait and see what happens. There are so many things that can go wrong between now and the Olympics with the health or injuries to cyclists that it's foolish speculating. I expect that cycling will beat track and field again in the medal haul and that car drivers will still be abusive to cyclists on the road!

  • Comment number 11.

    British cycling has had its brief moment in the sun. They peaked 4 years to early. It will be sweet to see Australia blow you off the track at your home Olympics, in one of your strongest sports.

  • Comment number 12.

    British cyclists always manage to find a performance at the Olympic Games. It will be no different in 2012. Come on GB

    Motihur Rahman, Sussex

  • Comment number 13.

    Obviously we need to consider that British cycling, like most other Olympic sports, have a 4 year training cycle, gradually building up towards hitting peak performance when it matters most, i.e. the olympics, so the world champs are still considered a build up event with this mindset. After Beijing a lot of younger athletes have come into the squad. This may actually benefit the youngsters an awful lot by giving them the experience of getting beaten, Australia and France took 2008 as a kick in the teeth and have come back strong, why can't Britain? If we struggle in the world champs next year, then I'll start worrying

  • Comment number 14.

    Very simple. Reason for the decline? Sky! nationality of Sky owner? Australian!

  • Comment number 15.

    'British cycling has had its brief moment in the sun. They peaked 4 years to early. It will be sweet to see Australia blow you off the track at your home Olympics, in one of your strongest sports.'

    Don't you understand, in just like virtually every sport these days Aussies, were going to beat you... again. In cycling, in rowing, in the overall medals table and in just being better than you in general.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    The interesting thing is that ideally the best cyclists would he for the worlds ahead of the Olympics but as that means travelling to Australia and back for what is ineffect race practice before the Olympics there are some strategic decisions to be made. But no one should doubt the ability of Mr Brailsford & the team...we wish them well.

  • Comment number 18.

    The day after an Aussie thrashing is no time to take comfort. I hope the British team are hurting and hurting badly. They're being far too complacent. They may well improve between now and the Olympics, but so will everyone else. They relaxed for too long after Beijing and now they're seriously behind. Now IS the time to panic...Steady as she goes is steering straight for the rocks...

  • Comment number 19.

    A lot to work on and aim for still.

    I see the Aussies are getting cocky already. Good, their complacency is always their biggest downfall and should give us all the motivation we need.

  • Comment number 20.

    While the answer may be no at the minute, I think there are some really tough questions needing answers over the next year. There are big issues with our elder statesmen and women.

    I think age is getting the better of them and with the MASSIVE development across the board the youngsters are on their tails and in Jason Kenny's case he's already ahead of Chris. If Becky James of Jess Varnish hit a streak of massive improvement over the next year VP is going to find herself third. Don't get me wrong I'd love to see both Sir Chris and VP taking gold in every event they can get into, I just think it's not going to happen.

    Australia have learned and may possibly peaked a year too early and our cycling team better hope they have.

    I can't get jingoistic about the situation, I think we have a number of pressing issues that need resolved before the start of the World Cup season and world champs next year. The grey area between Sky and the GB team means that unlike Beiging, Brailsford has other irons in the fire, he need to focuis on the trackies if GB is going to sweep up in London, REMEMBER anything less than a clean sweep of all gold medals will be deemed a failure in the eyes of many next year.

  • Comment number 21.

    Certainly the Australian's did not receive the 'surprise' Team GB tried to make out was coming at these championships.

    However, there's still time to sort the problems out.

    Great to see some of the Aussie boasting here of course, can only hope their team takes the same mindset. No better way to slack off your performance than to indulge in some overconfidence.

  • Comment number 22.

    I love it how similar we Aussies and Brits are (no matter how much we try to deny it).

    The Brits win, they brag, Aussies accuse them of bragging.
    The Aussies win, they brag, Brits accuse them of bragging.

    Stephen Fry put it best, "The British and the Australians think they have nothing in common until an American walks into the room".

    The Aussies were hurting in 2008 and have reacted accordingly. Will the Brits do the same before 2012?

  • Comment number 23.

    16. At 07:33am on 28th Mar 2011, mightydeceaser wrote:

    yeah you're right. hmm, 1 away Ashes win in 25 years and what else? not much really except a first win at Twickenham against us in 4 years. The English economy has tanked, severe budget cuts, riots, having to combine the once mighty Royal Navy with the French etc. as opposed to a thriving economy, excellent standard of living, high wages and of course, continued sporting success. yup, you definitely are "being better than us in general".
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Bet youre looking forward to playing us at the rugby world cup too lol...

  • Comment number 24.

    It is understandable that the British team are focussing on 2012 but to ignore the non-Olympic events at these World Champs is very short sighted. What about the successors to Hoy and Pendleton? Surely it would have made sense to give some outsiders/youngsters some experience at this level even if they have to change event in the future.

  • Comment number 25.

    I don't think it's panic stations for Britain as we did medal in many Olympic events at the World Champs. I am sure with a lot of hard work & home support in London that some of those silvers & Bronzes can be turned into gold.

    However, I very much doubt that Britain will match the haul of 7 they got in the velodrome in Beijing. Everything came together for them that week, just as everything came together for Australia this week. I think a haul of 4-5 golds would still be a fantastic achievement.

    I think that Chris Hoy may be better off dropping the Sprint as Jason Kenny does seem to be consistently beating him now, although I'm sure that Hoy will not want to give up his place in the team without a fight. I am not sure about Pendleton dropping the Keirin as none of the other girls have stepped up yet in the same manner as Kenny. Jess Varnish may be better off focusing on the Team Sprint to try & close that gap with the Aussies on the first lap there.

    One of the pleasing things about the performances here were some of the performances by the youger members of the team which at least shows that the sport can continue to thrive post 2012 when the likes of Hoy, Pendleton & Wiggins are likely to step down.

  • Comment number 26.

    Think that this Australia v GB thing is perverse, particularly when we have an Australian coaching our track team! Agree with the comments about concentrating only on Olympic events, seems wrong to me but then this drives the funding, so it's difficult to really criticise. Perhaps the funding regime needs changing and that's not in BC's power.

    I think that Dave Brailsford has been putting his efforts into the road side of things and the success on that side of things has been incredible since he has focused on that. Not only Mark Cavendish's results but performances from Ian Stannard yesterday (caught 150m from the line in a Flemish classic); Geraint Thomas white jersey in the Tour and subsequent performances. When I first took an interest in cycling we had one, maybe two, people that were riding the classics. Now we have triple that number who have a chance of winning them.

    No, I don't think that the demise of British Cycling is on the horizon just yet.

  • Comment number 27.

    The Aussies were fantastic weren't they and this article does seem to have the wrong emphasis in that respect, Meares in particular was outstanding.

    That said some points are relevant as given there will only be 1 entry per country per race will have an impact and I think there is some validity in saying if say Pendleton missed the Keirin and Hoy the Sprint as suggested then because those event s are both early in the scedule they could enter there No1 event in more rested condition than some of there opponents particularly if Meares goes for 3?

    I think the mens sprint will be given to Kenny anyway and that not a huge loss given there will be no Bourgain either he will expect to race Bauge in a final and probably come 2nd as the frenchman is brilliant.

    Choosing your events could be key though as a lot of nations who previously will have entered several riders will now be making sur ethere programmes are giving there best guys the best shot at there best event only I reckon.

    One other obvious point is a pursuit team with Wiggins, Clancy, Thomas back in will be very very difficult to beat and I think the plan for next year for them and team sky will definately involve a lot of track time together and less time on the roads a good olympics is very improtant to teh funding of British cycling in general. If you think what they did with no time together really a few weeks ago they will be very confident

  • Comment number 28.

    Hello all - thanks for the excellent comments. Good to see people caring passionately about the sport and how Britain (or Australia) fare in it. Let me go through a few answers to things raised above.

    1. Chris1977 - I wouldn't worry too much about the time Wiggins and Thomas spend away from the others. They've proved at the Track World Cup in Manchester last month, and previously, that they're strong and clever enough as riders to come straight back into the line-up and win. Nobody in British Cycling will be worrying about that as an issue.

    2. karimbashir - Karim, I wonder if there's very little friction... or if there's plenty of friction, but British Cycling do a better job than most of managing it, both inwardly and outwardly. That makes it sound like I'm privy to inside info - I'm not, particularly, but I think the governing body has its ducks in a row when it comes to its public portrayal. Not something guaranteed in Olympic sport. Behind the scenes I imagine things are more fraught, but managed well.

    8. Greg - yes, British Cycling are obviously going to spin any result to produce the best-possible line. And the luxury they currently have is being able to say, "Well, it's not an Olympics, we're not worried till then." That does not disguise the disappointments of the past week, and shouldn't be allowed to do so. I've tried to be careful, above, not to let the reasoning and rationale about why this is *not* the end of the world get in the way of the fact that it's still not great.

    The Sky thing was dealt with in an independent audit by Deloitte which, you'd like to think, would have highlighted any major issues. It didn't come back with anything hugely damning (otherwise journalists would have seized on it). Now there's scope in there to say it's just one report and that doesn't mean Team Sky has had no effect on British track cycling... and Brailsford's time is obviously divided now. But it was before Beijing, too. He had a big road cycling role then, it just wasn't a pro team and it wasn't called Team Sky. He also has a large team at his disposal and his role is to oversee things, not do the hands-on dirty work. Don't place too much emphasis on Team Sky, I don't think they are the issue, particularly.

    9. Wombat - some very selective quoting going on there. The "narrowing the gap" pertains, specifically, to the number of Olympic events in which cyclists are winning medals. Even the most partisan of journalists would struggle to justify describing the countries' respective gold-medal tallies as "narrowing the gap" and, if you think that's what I was trying to do, then you've missed the point.

    Last week was not good for Britain. The blog above doesn't dispute that, and goes out of its way to illustrate - with comparisons to previous Worlds - just how dramatically different the British tally in 2011 was to, say, 2007. The point is, while in the velodrome I noticed a dichotomy emerging between the experts at the track and the public watching and tweeting. The former said, "This isn't great but it's not the end of the world." The latter said, "This is terrible, Britain are rubbish, we're doomed for the Olympics."

    Hence a blog to examine how much panic you should indulge in if you're British. And while results were below par in Apeldoorn, Australia were not sufficiently far enough ahead of Britain for anyone to be able to say the GB team are finished for London, as I've gone into at some length above. Several of the Aussies medals might well have gone the other way with a flip of a coin - just as some of the British gold medals in Beijing could have gone elsewhere but for the finest of margins.

    Believe me, there are many journalists who, if they felt they could stand up an article entitled "British Cycling are finished for London 2012 - they might as well try skateboarding", would write it. Lots of journalists like sensational and big headlines and doom-mongering. If I knew from what I'd seen in Apeldoorn that British Cycling was in serious trouble, I'd say so. I've precious little benefit to derive from masking their failings.

    But I simply do not believe that story is there. You would be misrepresenting the facts and nuances of the sport to come away from the 2011 Track Worlds and write off Britain for 2012.

    17. Hainba - yes, there is a lot of strategy to be thought out around Melbourne 2012 and I'm sure you've seen today's articles suggesting Britain may hold back a little at those Worlds. (More fuel to the fire of those who are sceptical about this approach... it could prove risky.) I, personally, am not so sure the squad will be that dramatically weakened.

    18. Bolivian Limelight - they'll be hurting, I'm certain of that. They don't want to lose a single race. From my vantage point it looked like nobody went near Victoria Pendleton for a long old time after her keirin defeat. Losing is not a popular or enjoyable thing for any British cyclist to do. But to run around screaming, "The Aussies are better! We're dooooomed!" would be a good way to make sure of that for 2012. It needs a better strategic approach than that, and the question is whether British Cycling, deep down, think they've got one or not. And I still think we'll only find out at London 2012.

    24. DonDraper - the non-Olympic events weren't entirely ignored by GB, they just weren't the focus. Dani King picked up bronze in the women's scratch race, which is non-Olympic, and other young GB cyclists competed in other non-Olympic events with less success. So they were blooding new talent here, most spectacularly in the women's team pursuit, which is looking exciting for 2012.

  • Comment number 29.

    U14628062 - ... Yawn.

  • Comment number 30.

    Panic??? NO, not by a long way.A lot of events were very close,but there is room for improvement in the way the team is managed during the summer and World Cup season. The endurance squad takes care of itself with the natural season of road races and this is where the focus of Brailsford and Sutton has been, the Sprint squad has by and large been left to it's own devices.For instance in recent years with the appearance of trade teams most of the sprint squad have featured at most World Cups and major Championships but this year 2010/11 it has just been (as Shane Sutton called it) the "A"team contesting World Cups with the exception of Beijing when the "A" team didn't want to go.Individually, this seems to have benefitted Jason Kenny and Sir Chris as their performances were good although no golds, so no real worries there for 2012 for the Match Sprint and Keirin,however, the Team Sprint is another matter as the times and performances have not improved. 44.2 seconds in Apeldoorn doesn't compare well to the 43.5 in Copenhagen. The GB "long view" needs to be looked at again in regards to the Sprint squad,as I believe "morale" is pretty low and has been for a time. However I believe there is plenty of time to turn that round. The Endurance squad,both male and female will come good in 2012 and Vic P.
    J.K. and Sir Chris can expect some success.
    l

  • Comment number 31.

    Perhaps its best to encourage those British athletes to take part in all events and strive for success than only take part every few years in events that supply the funding for the sport. What kind of mentality is that to convey?
    As an Aussie, I saw this as a culmination of hard work probably driven on by our lesser success in Beijing - Peaking too early? This has only offered a massive boost of confidence towards next year - you win more games when you're confident, we all know that. I hardly think complacency is an issue.

    Winning against the British is always a great occasion, long may it continue.

  • Comment number 32.

    Mightydeceaser, every comment you write is anti British or anti English. I have checked all the posts you contributed. Grow up and get over it. It's extremely tedious and you add nothing from your posts.

  • Comment number 33.

    'Perhaps its best to encourage those British athletes to take part in all events and strive for success than only take part every few years in events that supply the funding for the sport. What kind of mentality is that to convey?'

    A mentality that wins multiple Olympic gold medals to be honest.

  • Comment number 34.

    It is not time to panic mainly because panic never helped anyone, but also because we are not that far away. If people expect to win 10 golds in London then I can tell you now it isn't going to happen, and if that induces panic then so be it. Brailsford is right, the bar has been set to high. I agree with the earlier poster who said 4/5 golds would be great. If GB bring home 4 golds and medal in all 10 events that would be unbelievable.

    When you look event by event rather than the overall figures the picture is a lot less panic inducing. The women's pursuit are dominant and the full strength men's pursuit are likely to be in a shoot out with the Aussies. I would fancy Chris Hoy to win keirin gold if he isn't in the sprint and Ed Clancy is omnium world champion. Anna Meares narrowly beat Pendleton when Meares is in the form of her life. I see Gold being achievable in these events.

    Jason Kenny looks good for a silver, Bauge will be difficult to overhaul, and the men's team sprint should win at least Bronze, although it would be nice if they could get past the Germans, who they seem to be a hair's width behind everytime. Again France will be difficult to beat but once you are in the final anything can happen. In the women's sprints the team were really close to the Aussies on the back of one month together. They look good for a silver now, and the keirin is a lottery. Finally of course our omnium world silver medalist was injured here, and would be strong contender to medal.

    That said I think if it isn't broke don't fix it. In the build up to Beiging we competed at the Worlds in non-olympic events like women's team sprint and women's team pursuit so why change that now?

    How do people feel about any decision to not even go to the Worlds next year? That would take a lot of nerve.

  • Comment number 35.

    "Winning against the British is always a great occasion, long may it continue."

    I'll give you 15 months! ;)


  • Comment number 36.

    I think you misunderstand my probelm with Wiggins and Thomas yes they won in Manchester but the Aussies were not there or at least not the team of Bodbridge, Dennis, Hepburn etc. I think that Aussie team is younger then the GB one and have been built for a four year plan to win the Olympics. Looking back to 2007 again the team that won the Olympics competed at the world champs and won. I don't blame Wiggins and Thomas but to think that they can just go into the team and win in 2012 without taking part in one world champs! Sorry at this moment in time my pound would be on the Aussies.

  • Comment number 37.

    I think there is a lot more here for the british team. A year is a long time in sport. 2007 an unknown by the name of Usain bolt scrapes into the mens World Championships 100m and 200m finals the next year he is breaking world records for fun.

    The cycling set up in this country is second to none and as both Swimming and Cycling have maintained their goal is 2012 lets judge them by that.

    I think we also downplay the advantage of a home crowd in all of this as well.

    Which is better the World's or the Olympics, many sports believe the latter.

  • Comment number 38.

    Plenty of good points here amongst all the predictable anti GB drivel from the usual suspects. You can't knock the Aussie performance here, 8 Golds is a fine effort and if we had won that many I think we would consider it our right to be delighted.

    However, the comparison with GB's 7 Gold haul of 2007 and 9 Gold haul of 2008 is slightly inaccurate. I don't recall back then there being another nation that medalled in the vast majority of Olympic events as GB have done here; with an understrength squad and having one of their big stars (in this case Queen Vicki) clearly nowhere near full throttle having strolled through the most of the season so far yet still managing to defeat everyone bar the gold medallist quite easily.

    I totally agree with the posts that have said it is absurd to expect another Beijing and that 4 or 5 Golds would be a fantastic achievement. Personally I think 3 or 4 is just about the best we can expect with a few silver and bronze thrown in as well. I do think Hoy is slightly past his best and he should concentrate on the team sprint and the keiren. This decision may end up being made for him if Kenny continues his progress although I would love Sir Chris to prove me wrong but whilst Bauge is on fire I think slilver is the best we can hope for in the team and individual sprtins so it's down to Hoy to bring home a gold in his best event!

    The girls pursuit look immense and lets not forget you can throw Romero and Rowsell into the mix here as well. Any thoughts on Dani King for the Omnium by the way if Lizzie Armistead doesn't get back to her best (or even if she does!).

    The mens pursuit is between us and Oz and is too close to call as could be the womens team sprint. If Varnish can get a little closer to Meares, Pendleton will smoke McCulloch.

    Melbourne will tell us more assuming we send a decent team (I personally think Brailsford is playing mind games here) so bring it on!!!!

  • Comment number 39.

    Having watched most of the evening (Wed - Fri) and daytime (Sat / Sun) coverage from Appeldorn and seeing the interviews with the cyclists, Dave Brailsford and the commentators / experts , it appeared to me that by focusing very specifically on the Olympic disciplines for 2012, the other academy riders especially from endurance events are missing the opportunity to take part in a World Championship where they would have been thrust onto a big stage with a great atmosphere which would surely have been a good learning experience for the future. You only had to see how pleased Dani King was in getting the bronze medal in the Scratch race to realise that this almost meant as much to her as her gold in the team pursuit. In addition why weren't either Joanne Rowsell or Sarah Storey for example, who missed selection in the team pursuit, given the opportunity to ride in the individual pursuit ; surely they would have been in with a medal chance ?

    I can't believe that the coaching and other staff don't have the time to look after cyclists who are only entered for non olympic disciplines because they're focused solely on those who are.

    The final interview that I saw with Dave Brailsford highlighted this for me even further when he appeared to suggest that Team GB might not be represented at all in the world championships at Melbourne in March 2012 as it may not fit in to the training schedule for London 2012 in the July/August. Does this also mean that the up and coming riders from the youth development programme and other academy riders who will be up for Olympic selection in 2016 won't be given the chance to show their talents in next season's world cups and if successful then at Melbourne ?

  • Comment number 40.

    Chris 1977 I agree that Australia are slight favourites at the moment in the men's team pursuit, but I don't think Ollie was saying the gold is in the bag earlier. Yes Australia have won the last two worlds and I'd be a lot happier if the Beijing team were together all the time. What you can't ignore is that after a couple of weeks back on the track Wiggins and co posted a time that was less than 2 100ths of a second outside the Aussie record. Its between us and them and they are favourites now but if we beat them in World Cup races next year that will change.

    Arm chair cycle fan. I think what Brailsford was saying is that if he knows his team by the Worlds next year he will send only those who are not going to London to gain experience so you will see a lot of kids. My problem with not sending the A Team is that it is a break with what has worked before, although the Worlds before the last olympics were in Manchester. If we are still getting beaten in the World Cup next year we need more track time/competition to turn it round in the Olypmics. Unless of course they want us to go in as underdogs to lift expectation and pressure.

    I think the women's team sprint was a big bonus this weekend and I agree with James. If Varnish can get within .2 seconds of Meares then Pendleton will bring home the gold. They were only 1 100th behind Australia in qualifying after one month as a team. Also James I think the World cup next year will see rivalries like hoy v kenny and perhaps armistead v king to see who should get the places.

  • Comment number 41.

    In moderation - I'll give you 15 months! ;)

    I hope that's true, and long after that to boot :)

  • Comment number 42.

    Having such rivalry only makes this sport so much more interesting for me. That and having two Aussie brothers at opposite ends coaching the teams - just to put that extra spin on it.

  • Comment number 43.

    The significance of one rider per nation cannot be underestimated,of the top 8 qualifiers at the Worlds Mens Sprint in Apeldoorn only 3 will be in London 2012, of the top 12 in Keirin finals half will be missing. So although the fields will be made up of no hopers the medals will go to the top nations, but the dynamic will be completely changed. With these Worlds in Apeldoorn we have maybe seen the last great confrontation of the top sprinters in the same competition,we certainly will not see it in London and I will not be paying £325 per session to watch. This is so disappointing for me having been to the last 3 Olympic Games. Pat McQuaid,Jacques Rogge, Seb Coe hang your heads in shame.

  • Comment number 44.

    BBC Moderators can check if they want and verify what im about to say...

    That is - I am sorry but, this whole Worlds fiasco and the lack of medals won by the GB Team is something that I predicted way back in 2008, just as "Sir" (in speech marks because it is an absolute shambles that a good performance at one olympic games entitles you to the highest civic honour that can be bestowed upon a person) Hoy was being lauded as a hero and the GB Cycling team as the most amazing thing since sliced bread.

    We only dominated as much as we did because in terms of infrastructure and methods and training etc, GB had for a little while being really pumping the money, time and effort into our Track Cycling and, as a result, we had made that first step above our opposition nations.

    And this was played out in Beijing where we were the team to look up to and admire.

    HOWEVER, very quickly it started becoming clear that the other nations, particularly France and Australia, were catching up, getting up to speed with the good things we were doing to develop, and putting them into practice themselves.

    Lo and behold, 2/3 years later, and our 6 month period of dominance is already over and trust me, we wont get it back.

    Should save the hassle and send cycling the way of Skiing and other sports participated in by 0.2% of the country

    Any chance we can remove Mr Chris Hoy's Knighthood and replace it with something more appropriate? An OBE or something OR, maybe, he can make do with his gold medals which is all he was really entitled to.

 

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