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Race to London 2012 begins in Manchester

Track cycling
by Alex Murray (U516526) 27 October 2009
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The opening World Cup event of the 2009/10 track season probably looks pretty insignificant in the shadow of London 2012 but this weekend, in effect, marks the beginning of the journey for Team GB.

The 2008/09 season can probably be written down as bad debt after the investment by British Cycling hit its peak value in Beijing. The portfolio of capital gains at the World Championships would have been seen as a massive underperformance in any other year.

Certainly Sir Chris Hoy is unlikely to mark it down as a vintage year given the hip injury he endured, but it seems to have given him a chance to refocus on his long-term goals. He recently told Brendan Gallagher, of The Daily Telegraph:

"London [Olympics 2012] really is on the horizon now, it all seemed a long way away in the months immediately after Beijing but it seems much closer and the motivation and impetus is back"

It's the sort of statement which will please both the fans and those involved in British Cycling's medal-winning team. His rivals will no doubt be less pleased.

As the figurehead of British track cycling, Hoy is the rider who many look to for inspiration and his motivation will undoubtedly be shared by those around him in what is as close to a full strength squad as can be expected. Yes, there's no Wiggins or Cavendish, but given the debate around which events will be on the programme for 2012 and their goals on the road, it's hardly surprising.

As important as the established names are to drawing a crowd, it's the new names that I think are most worthy of paying attention to. We know well what those with Olympic medals can achieve, but it's the new blood who will push them that hold the most interest.

Becky James gets her senior debut alongside Jess Varnish, Andy Tennant, David Daniell and Peter Mitchell. For them Manchester is another step on the path towards being selected for London.

Their goal this weekend may not be to win but to achieve the goals set out for them, be that a given time or simply demonstrating the skills and mindset needed to step up at senior level. Sometimes that can easily be mistaken for a failure against the standards set by their team-mates, but even a rider saying "I'm not going to be beaten by them again" can be a significant psychological hurdle to overcome.

So while I'll be watching the action with one eye on the results, part of me will be making notes on the young pretenders with a view to London 2012. What will be a "good result" for Team GB in Manchester from your point of view?

Watch the event live on BBC Two, the red button and BBC Sport website; live commentary on 5 live sports extra. Full details here.

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posted Oct 31, 2009

I couldn't make it in person, but was glued to the Red Button coverage last night.

Good to see Sir Chris back in action.

Also to see Chris Newton win the points race. and Victoria Pendleton win the sprints over Gao of China.

Geraint Thomas did the 2nd fastest 4km pursuit, but I missed that.

Thanks for the coverage BBC. Hugh Porter and Craig Maclean and Jill Douglas do a great job.


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posted Nov 1, 2009

Loved the whole mouth-watering event, both red button and B2. Well done to all concerned in producing such magnificent performances. One thing I'm a tad confused about: why were some GB riders in trade colours and others in national colours? Why, for example, were Sky racing against GB in the men's team pursuit, when all the riders were British? I thought the worlds were run on a national team basis. Can anyone clarify matters for me please?

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comment by DaveC (U4310400)

posted Nov 1, 2009

cavasta, there were a number of trade teams from various countries taking part, with all the riders in any trade team being from a single country ... i.e. all the Sky+HD riders were from Great Britain.

The World Cup series is not an inter-nation competition, as such, as the points gained are all part of the riders' bids to qualify for the world championships rather than a bid to find the best nation across the series.

I stand to be corrected here, but the way I understand it, the addition of the trade teams allows a greater number of riders to take part from a single country. The inclusion of Sky+HD, for example, means that there can be two British teams in the sprint competition rather than one.

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posted Nov 1, 2009

The joke used to go that the best rugby team in the world were the All Blacks. The second best was the All Blacks' "B" Team.

From what I've seen over the past three days Britain might run out of letters of the alphabet.

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posted Nov 2, 2009

Am I the only one that thinks its a bit odd Sir Chris Hoy is not wearing a british 'vest' seems a bit unpatriotic. When you a sportperson surely the dream is to represent your country!! If I was elite I would be like er.... Sky HD what???!! I'm here to represent and wear the British 'vest'. Two words sell-out... x

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comment by DaveC (U4310400)

posted Nov 2, 2009

Actually, I think Sir Chris Hoy's decision to ride for Sky is a good (and patriotic) one, same with Victoria Pendleton.

By riding for a trade team, it frees up spaces in the GB team so that young, up and coming riders like Becky James and David Daniell (among others) can get experience of international competition against the best riders in the world.

Sky is not going to sign those unknown youngsters to ride for them, so if they chose to ride for GB, Hoy and Pendleton would actually be restricting the development of the next generation of British talent. That would be the unpatriotic decision.

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posted Nov 2, 2009

I think you will go a long way to find anyone more patriotic than Chris or Vicky. I must admit I am not the biggest Sky fan in the world but they are putting a significant amount of money into cycling and I thank them for that.

By the way, when Hoy, Pendleton or any of the Sky riders won gold medals it was the British national anthem being played.

I presume the anthem played is that of the trade team's nation. From recollection, I think Sky were the only trade team to win gold medals so the theory wasn't put to the test (some of the other trade teams had a mix of nationalities, like the French Cofidis team sprint which included Teun Mulder)

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posted Nov 2, 2009

Whichever trade team the riders ride for, the naitonal anthem of their coutry is played. Though it would be very amusing indeed if they played the advert music for the trade team sposors!

There are more explanations of trade teams in this thread:

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comment by Greg (U1842552)

posted Nov 2, 2009

I think it is good to have trade teams in the World Cup. If it brings in cash to the sport then that cannot be a bad thing. In effect we had a GB A and a GB B team in some events which was awesome.

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posted Nov 3, 2009

Thanks for your reply to my question dcacooper. I'm now a little wiser. Cheers.

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