Track Cycling World Championships: The GB amateurs set to take on the world
|UCI Track Cycling World Championships 2018|
|Venue: Omnisport Apeldoorn, Netherlands Dates: 28 February to 4 March Coverage: Live on BBC Red Button, connected TV and online|
British amateur Charlie Tanfield has deferred his University degree to race for Great Britain at the 2018 World Track Cycling Championships.
The 21-year-old, who is not part of the British Cycling set-up, will join fellow amateur and Team KGF rider Dan Bigham in the Netherlands this week.
They started KGF in 2016 with Charlie's brother Harry and Jacob Tipper, and have already won national titles.
"If someone had said this 12 months ago I would have laughed," said Tanfield.
"There have been times when it's been ridiculous and far too much for me to handle. I'm at university, I come home in the dark and have to do four hours on the bike.
"I deferred my course a few weeks ago and it's been a lot better since. I just wanted to prepare properly for worlds, I didn't want to leave anything behind. It's a huge decision, it's a risk and it might not pay off, but we'll soon find out."
"When we established Team KGF I don't think it was ever an aim to get to a major championships," said Bigham. "The aim as a group of four mates was just to ride together and be as good as we could.
"Mid-November [British Cycling] put it out there and said there are two individual pursuit spots if you can get Great Britain into the top eight of the ranking. So me and Charlie sat down and worked out the maths of how to collect all the IP points and just about scraped in."
After announcing their arrival by winning three gold medals and a silver in the 2017 National Track Championships, Tanfield, who won double World Cup gold in Minsk this season, also sealed the individual pursuit title at this year's Nationals.
"It's been a fairytale story so far," he added. "We won the team pursuit title at the National Championships in Manchester last year. We beat the GB boys and we were ecstatic.
"We went out for a few beers and started talking. We had only done six training sessions so that really planted the seed and allowed us to think we could take it a lot further.
"It has just kept on snowballing and now I'm sat here ready to go to the World Championships."
The Kennys return
The World Championships also mark the return to competitive cycling of GB's golden couple from the Rio Olympics,
Jason and Laura Kenny. The former retired from the track after winning gold in Rio but has reversed that decision and Laura is returning after giving birth to the couple's son last summer.
"I'd had enough, I did stop and I disappeared," he said. "When I did decide to try and come back I was going to take my time and build back for Olympic qualification but that's all gone out the window now."
Seeing wife Laura starting her comeback from giving birth to their son also inspired his return.
"Laura planned on doing another Games so we put all these things in place and it gave me a nudge," he said. "But in the year I had off I didn't find anything else to do so I came back."
Laura added: "People thought he was joking, but he was serious. He decided even pre-Rio that he wasn't going to carry on.
"There was a good six months when he didn't ride or go in the gym. But once I started getting back into it, he was having a little sniff at it and then that was it - he was riding The Revolution."
Laura defended her team pursuit and omnium titles at the 2016 Rio Games and is in a team pursuit squad that features fellow Olympic champions Katie Archibald and Elinor Barker.
"Having left it at an Olympic standard and then come back in, it's going unbelievably fast," she said. "It was surprising to come back to a squad that was at that high standard."
Six-time Olympic champion Jason, who won the team sprint title at the National Championships in Manchester in January with Phil Hindes, Ryan Owens and Jack Carlin, insists he is still finding his way as he continues his comeback.
"The nationals went quite well but that doesn't mean to say the worlds will go well," he admitted. "I don't feel massively under-prepared but I've come into this with six months training instead of the usual 12."
Both he and Laura are learning to train half-awake after the arrival of Albert Louie six months ago and looking after him will keep the pair from racing at the Commonwealth Games in April.
"On the face of it, trying to manage being an elite athlete and having a baby is a disaster," said Jason. "I never thought I could train on no sleep."
|Men's endurance||Dan Bigham, Ed Clancy, Kian Emadi, Ethan Hayter, Chris Latham, Mark Stewart, Charlie Tanfield, Ollie Wood|
|Men's sprint||Jack Carlin, Phil Hindes, Jason Kenny, Ryan Owens, Callum Skinner, Joe Truman|
|Women's endurance||Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker, Ellie Dickinson, Emily Kay, Laura Kenny, Emily Nelson|
|Women's sprint||Lauren Bate, Katy Marchant|