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GB cycling team show signs of promise at World Cup

GB pursuit team take gold

Jill Douglas
By Jill Douglas
BBC Sport cycling reporter

After a thoroughly enjoyable track cycling World Cup in Manchester, the British team are not a million miles away from where they want to be a year-and-a-half before London 2012.

Out of 10 Olympic events in Manchester, GB won medals in seven and once you get into a position in the top three, that is where you need to be.

Although Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton had to settle for bronze on two occasions each, it is not a case of having to win golds at this stage.

If you are competitive and in the medal shake-up, then the colour of that medal can be determined on the day and little things the guys will work on can give them that extra bit they need.

The most important thing is to be in the podium group, so to have won medals in seven of the 10 was significant.

In the events where GB did not win medals, there is no need to panic.

In the women's team sprint, where Jess Varnish and Becky James finished fourth, if you combined the two performances by the British teams, taking into account Victoria Pendleton and Shanaze Reade, they actually had enough to be a medal prospect - GB's management just need to work out the strongest pairing.

The two omniums were slightly disappointing. GB also finished out of the medals but in the men's event, Ed Clancy, who rode in the team pursuit instead, is the men's world champion, so Ben Swift, who finished sixth, has got a target to aim for. He has also just come in off the road with little preparation and is likely to improve.

Sir Chris Hoy
Hoy's performance in the keirin where he took gold was dominant. He showed everyone he does not lack motivation at all

Jill Douglas

In the women's omnium, Lizzie Armitstead finished seventh even though she has been off the pace. But she was ill with a gallstones infection in the run-up and won silver in the world championships last year so knows she is capable of a lot more.

All in all, I would say it was a pretty positive weekend. It is all going in the right direction with the World Championships in Apeldoorn to aim for in March and then the Olympics, which is the ultimate target - nobody is under any illusions about what they are all aiming for.

I don't think Hoy will be worried at all. His performance in the keirin where he took gold was dominant. He showed everyone he does not lack motivation at all. He is a great leader of the team and role model.

Pendleton said this week she has dreams about being chased by a monster and the monster is the Olympics.

She also said she lacked killer instinct and hunger because she has already achieved what she always wanted, which is Olympic gold.

She knows herself that she is not where she needs to be to win a gold medal right now but she also knows how to get there so no-one will take her lightly, certainly not her competitors.

My highlight was the men's pursuit team, which I am massively excited about.

They were the stand-out performers. To ride a three-minute 55 second pursuit, and be disappointed by it as Bradley Wiggins was, is jaw-dropping.

That will be the ticket to have for London 2012. Whoever gets tickets to watch the team pursuit in action will be in for an absolute cracker.

Looking at the promising young stars who raced at the World Cup, GB's next generation look in good health.

Varnish's sub-19 second lead off in the team sprint really puts her in with a chance of joining Pendleton - in place of Reade, but there is some real competition there.

James is learning all the time and looking completely comfortable in the high class of opposition she is now in. They are making little gains all the time and as far as sprinting is concerned, things are looking good.

There are a lot of positive signs and the fact there are people competing for these few spots within the GB team, with only one rider per nation being allowed to compete at each event in London, means everybody will have to continue to raise their games throughout the next year-and-a-half.

I think the fans know the cycling team will be one of the main draws at the Olympics. The atmosphere at the Manchester velodrome was electric. It will be incredible to see the guys the next time they all compete on British soil together, which could be London 2012.

Jill Douglas was talking to BBC Sport's Marc Vesty

Pendleton wins keirin bronze

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see also
British pursuit team ride to gold
20 Feb 11 |  Cycling
Classy Hoy wins World Cup gold
19 Feb 11 |  Cycling
GB women take team pursuit gold
18 Feb 11 |  Cycling
GB welcome back Wiggins
19 Feb 11 |  Cycling
Hoy hails GB cycling team spirit
17 Feb 11 |  Cycling
GB begin pursuit selection fight
16 Feb 11 |  Cycling

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