Britain gets great haul of cycling medals

Success at the UCI Track World Championships as young riders shine

Published in the Edinburgh Journal newspaper 6 March.

Credit: British Cycling
Credit: British Cycling

Great Britain are brimming with confidence in their form for the start of this seasons Track Cycling events, convincingly topping the medals table in Belarus.

Performance director Dave Brailsford can accept more plaudits for this result as he continues churning out the champions. The man behind the scenes has been transforming Great Britain from an island defined by football and the Premiership into a cycling powerhouse. First Team Sky, then the Olympic cycling performances, followed by Tiernan-Locke and his Tour of Britain win. Last week, Brailsford revealed a shiny new crew of track cyclists that took home nine medals and five world titles from the UCI Track World Championships in Minsk, Belarus.

The event in Minsk was the first on the long road to the Olympics in Rio in 2016 while there were encouraging starts for Team GB’s main rivals Australia and Germany who also performed. Leading the procession for the UK was 21-year-old Becky James, a newly crowned double world champion (keirin and individual sprint) and owner of two bronze medals from the 500m time-trial and team sprint.

The young British squad of men and women racked up the results over the five-day track competition. Victoria Williamson won bronze with teammate Becky James in the team sprint, Elinor Barker, Dani King and Laura Trott took gold in the team pursuit and Trott also secured a silver in the omnium. In the men’s competition, Jason Kenny won gold in keirin, Simon Yates triumphed in the points race world championship while Burke, Clancy, Harrison and Tennant together won silver in the team pursuit.

The competition revealed just how strong Great Britain is looking and is being touted as a harbinger for Rio 2016. The stunning female performances that saw each of the five British women at the world championships bring back a medal will encourage a leap in the right direction in the struggle to increase support and sponsorship among female competitors. It seems Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton will not be missed as much as was first thought as the next generation of young track riders step up to take their place. Neighbours Ireland won a gold and silver at the event, making rider Martin Irvine the first Irishman to win a World Track Championship gold in 117 years.

Next year’s World Championship will be held in Colombia, where the world can see if Great Britain can retain their titles as the countdown continues towards the next Olympics.

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