British track team raise the bar for Rio gold rush

Despite being undisputed kings of the Olympic velodrome,Britain regularly take their foot off the pedal.

Written by Agencies | London | Published: August 9, 2012 1:13:05 pm

Britain’s world-beating team of Olympic track cycling champions has no intention of lowering their ambitions for the 2016 Games in Rio,says team chief Dave Brailsford.

For the second consecutive Games Britain left their rivals trailing far behind in the table with a total of nine medals and seven gold from 10 finals.

Australia finished second,but their tally of five medals including one gold told a familiar story to the other track powers: Britain are still streets ahead of the rest.

Also holding the role of team chief at the Sky outfit of Bradley Wiggins,who won the Tour de France in July,Brailsford is set to reduce his commitment to the track

programme to around “20-30 percent”.

But as far as equalling or improving their medals haul from London in Rio,he was unequivocal.

“Yes,of course it’s possible,our job is to believe it is possible to do even better,” said Brailsford. “You’ve got to go there and think,let’s go and win all ten.”

Despite being undisputed kings of the Olympic velodrome,Britain regularly take their foot off the pedal during the intervening world championships and World Cup events.

It led to a scenario where the performances of rival teams,notably Australia and France,suggested their rivalry at the London velodrome would be far closer.

Brailsford said,however: “I think they (other teams) were lulled into a sense of security because… let’s face it,we haven’t lit it up for four years.

“I think they felt that it was going to be touch and go,the margins were going to be very tight,the medals would be spread right across the different nations.

“I just think they didn’t expect us to dominate like we have done. That’s probably more of a shock than anything to them.”

After only two days on the London track,alarm bells started to ring.

France had hoped the progress they had made in the men’s team sprint would win them gold. They finished second to Britain,and struggled to accept defeat.

“It feels bitter,” said Frenchman Gregory Bauge,who also went on to lose in the sprint final to Britain’s Jason Kenny.

France were not the only team puzzled at the extent of Britain’s progress since the Melbourne championships four months ago.

Although he believes the home crowd played a motivating role,Australia’s high performance director Kevin Tabotta said: “There’s been a bit of thought as to how the gap has become so big since Melbourne.”

But the French were the most vociferous. Admitting she was “puzzled”,French track cycling chief Isabelle Gautheron told AFP: “They haven’t dominated for the

past four years,they were among the best teams in the world along with Australia,Germany and France.

“Here,they’re crushing everybody.”

Backed by lottery funding and now with added,private sponsorship from Sky,Britain’s track team has gone from strength to strength since making its first,tentative steps into Olympic track cycling in 2000.

And despite a wobble in November when some performances had left Brailsford concerned that “we’d got our timing wrong”,the hosts once again came good in time.

Brailsford said the specialist knowledge gleaned by his army of coaches and technicians about how and when to peak for the Games had made the difference.

“Credit to the coaches. We know how to peak,and when I look round at other nations,I am not sure how many could say that as a team,” he said.

“If you can get that nailed then that’s worth the investment.”

He added: “Our job was to make sure that every single rider who walked onto that track was going to perform to a higher level than they ever had in their careers.

“When you have the chance to perform at a home Games,you have to be at your own personal best and you can’t ask for more than personal excellence.”

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