Victoria Pendleton admits she lost confidence in herself

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Sport in Apeldoorn, Netherlands

New European keirin champion Victoria Pendleton has admitted to losing faith in her own ability as results failed to go her way in the last year of racing.

Pendleton, who took keirin gold in Apeldoorn on Sunday, missed out on the sprint world title for the first time since 2006 earlier this year.

"It knocked my confidence. The worst thing is doubting yourself," she said.

"I thought, 'Maybe this year's not my year'. But I'm going to try my damned hardest to make sure 2012 is my year."

Pendleton came away from the 2011 World Championships - held in the same velodrome as this week's European Championships, in the Dutch city of Apeldoorn - without a title to her name, Anna Meares and Simona Krupeckaite beating her into bronze-medal position in the sprint.

But she picked up her second European victory here with an exciting performance in Sunday's keirin final to match Friday's victory alongside Jess Varnish in the team sprint.

Pendleton displayed an aggression and self-belief that had seemed lacking a day earlier, when she came eighth in the sprint.

"The sprint can be a toss of a coin, sometimes it's heads and sometimes it's tails," said Pendleton.

"Yesterday I had a lot of tails and usually it doesn't go that way, so I'm hoping I have a lot of heads credit going on.

"I'm lacking a lot of explosive speed at the moment. When you know you haven't got the form, that's the hardest thing.

"You know what it should feel like and psychologically, when you know you haven't got the full package, it can be quite hard to attack in the same manner that you normally do, with the same confidence.

"Now there will be a lot of hard work, going back to basics in a real slow-build to the London World Cup [inside the new Olympic Velodrome, in February], which is exactly what I wanted. I'm going to have to be on fighting form when it comes to that, and I can concentrate on that now."

British Cycling's performance director, Dave Brailsford, said: "The way she turned [Saturday's sprint performance] around, came back under pressure and pulled out that performance demonstrates what a great champion she is and you should never write her off.

"You don't get to be multiple Olympic champion if you haven't got any guts, and that girl's got guts - oodles of it.

"She showed that today, she's determined and she came back fighting after a tough day yesterday, and she rode a world-class keirin there."

Pendleton will now miss November's World Cup, in Kazakhstan, to focus on intensive training having turned up at the European Championships struggling for form.

But though she admits beginning to doubt her training last season, she is determined to reach her next major event - February's World Cup, which doubles as the Olympic test event - in the form of her life.

"The worst thing you can do is start doubting what you do. As soon as you start doubting your training programme and over-analysing it, you just start spiralling down. And I'm an emotional person," she said.

"Last year I felt I was in a situation a bit like a tug-of-war. With all my strength I was really trying to get that performance in my grasp, [but] I almost felt like I'd lost before I'd started.

"Now I want to have that solid foundation in place to build on through the year. You can't start building strength in April, it's too late. You have to be confident in your programme and hopefully it'll come together."