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Page last updated at 13:03 GMT, Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Ed Clancy admits fight is on for GB team pursuit places

Track World Cup, Manchester
Venue: Manchester Velodrome Dates: 18-20 February
Coverage: Watch live on Friday and Saturday on the BBC red button, BBC Two on Sunday, all three days online (UK only); listen on 5 live sports extra

Clancy ready to battle for Team GB place

By Ollie Williams

Britain's track cycling superstars will "throw their hats in the ring" for Olympic team selection this year, says Beijing 2008 gold medallist Ed Clancy.

Clancy won the team pursuit with Paul Manning, Geraint Thomas and Bradley Wiggins in 2008. The latter two have now returned to the track for 2012.

"There are nine or 10 riders going for team pursuit selection but only a few places," Clancy told BBC Sport.

"From now on there's going to be a fight for places, but what can you do?"

This weekend's Track World Cup, taking place in Manchester from Friday to Sunday, sees Clancy join Wiggins, Thomas, Steven Burke and Andy Tennant in the GB men's team pursuit squad.

But Clancy also holds the world title in the men's omnium, a new event in the Olympic schedule for London 2012 which combines endurance and sprint disciplines in six stages over two days.

It's a shame some of the best riders in the world aren't going to have the chance to go at the Olympics

Ed Clancy

Though he has not been selected for the omnium at the Track World Cup, Clancy is preparing to fight on two fronts for places in both events at the Games.

"I'm really keen on getting a place in both the team pursuit and omnium for London, if possible," the 25-year-old told BBC Sport.

"I'm fully aware the chances of that happening are, I wouldn't say slim, but it's a difficult task.

"I've got to keep pushing forward on the aerobic front. I'm fine in the short-distance omnium events but, in the past, the points, scratch and elimination races have been something out of my reach.

"All I can do is put together the best CV, if you like, every time I race. Just try my best."

Wiggins and Thomas have taken time away from the track since their success in Beijing, focusing on their road ambitions - as, to a lesser degree, has Clancy.

But this is the year in which qualification for the London Olympics cranks up a gear and, consequently, the sport's big guns are returning to the velodrome to nail down their places in a slimmed-down British Olympic team.

Cycling's world governing body, the UCI, has changed the Olympic programme for 2012 - dropping some events in favour of others, and introducing a new rule which means nations may only enter one rider per individual event.

Two riders per nation were allowed in Beijing, allowing Team GB to put two riders on the podium in no fewer than four instances - a feat they cannot now repeat on home soil.

Bradley Wiggins riding for Team Sky
Bradley Wiggins has ventured off the track and into the Tour de France

Though the endurance events have not suffered as much as the sprint disciplines as a result, pressure to get into the GB team pursuit squad is intense, as it is seen by many as a near-guaranteed gold medal for Britain.

"You've got 10 riders in the frame and now, with the reduced format of events for endurance, more people have stuck their nose into the team pursuit," said Clancy's team-mate Tennant.

"It's probably a more guaranteed gold medal than, say, the omnium, where you're on your own and there are a lot of variables.

"In the team pursuit you can sort-of predict how you're going to do, and people like that."

Clancy added: "It's a shame the UCI brought that rule in, particularly for the sprinters, since there's a very real chance that the second-best sprinter in the world isn't even going to have a chance to compete at the Olympics.

Brad and Geraint compete for podium positions at the Tour de France and I compete for top 100s at the Tour of Britain

Ed Clancy

"You can argue it's giving smaller nations the chance to compete at the highest level, which is all well and good, but to me the Olympics is supposed to be the pinnacle of what you can achieve in sport, and it's a shame some of the best riders in the world aren't going to have the chance to go at all."

Clancy heads into the Track World Cup intending not to lock horns with Thomas and Wiggins for team pursuit places. Instead he hopes to prove he complements them in the team.

"I can't match those guys for aerobic power, I can't come close," he said.

"They compete for podium positions at the Tour de France and I compete for top 100s at the Tour of Britain. I've got to bring something else to the party.

"I've always had a pretty quick start, and technically and decision making-wise I'm as good as anyone out there. I like to think I still bring something unique to the team pursuit.

"I think it'll be harder to get a place in the omnium and now I'm trying to go for both, it'll be a bit of a balancing act."

Clancy is less concerned by the reappearance of 40-year-old former sprint world champion and Olympic gold medallist Jason Queally, who has returned to the track.

"Queally's come back and he says he wants to go team pursuiting now, after 12 years of being a sprinter," said Clancy.

"He's good for about two kilometres and he's massively quick, but he's got no endurance. I don't think he'll make it."

The British team pursuiters were beaten by Australia at Athens 2004, but roared back to Olympic gold in 2008.

London's Games also mark the introduction of the women's team pursuit to the Olympic line-up.

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see also
Injured Romero out of Manchester
14 Feb 11 |  Cycling
Storey begins double Olympic bid
10 Feb 11 |  Cycling
Boardman's legendary record falls
02 Feb 11 |  Cycling
Wiggins returns in strong GB team
29 Jan 11 |  Cycling
Clancy wins World Cup omnium gold
18 Dec 10 |  Cycling
GB end on high with Clancy gold
28 Mar 10 |  Cycling
GB storm to gold in team pursuit
18 Aug 08 |  Cycling

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