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Page last updated at 19:25 GMT, Friday, 8 October 2010 20:25 UK

Newton says British cycling will be back on top in 2012


Newton defends home nations' performance

By Matt Slater

Double world champion Chris Newton has defended the home nations' riders at Delhi 2010 and said Britain will be the top track team at London 2012.

Health concerns and a scheduling clash with the European Championships meant the home nations had to send novice teams to the Commonwealth Games.

With so many British stars absent, the Australians have dominated, winning 12 of 14 gold medals in the velodrome.

"We'll take this on the chin and bounce back in London," said Newton.

"There's no chance the Australians will be beating us in our velodrome. Not a chance."

Newton, who won a Commonwealth gold for England in 2000 as well as Olympic silver and bronze medals in a fine career on the boards, is now the Great Britain endurance coach for the under-23 men's team.

The 36-year-old explained that the late decision to make next month's European Championships an Olympic qualifying event gave British Cycling little choice but to concentrate its efforts on Poland, not New Delhi.

This meant the likes of Sir Chris Hoy, a triple gold medallist at the Beijing Olympics, and Victoria Pendleton were unable to defend their Commonwealth sprint titles.

Becky James

James wins cycling bronze for Wales

Bradley Wiggins and Rebecca Romero, two other British winners in Beijing, also made themselves unavailable for selection.

And this stellar cast of absentees was added to in the weeks before the Commonwealth Games when the likes of Welsh star Geraint Thomas, English duo Ian Stannard and Ben Swift, and talented Isle of Man rider Peter Kennaugh all excused themselves due to concerns about contracting illnesses in India.

Newton, however, says British Cycling saw this as an opportunity to blood a new batch of riders at a leading multi-sport event.

"I think the average age of [the English] team is 19, they're in their first year as U23 riders," the Middlesbrough-born cyclist said.

"So the aim was for them to gain experience at a major championship and perhaps claim some success.

"And there have been some great performances: George Atkins (19) won a silver in the points race behind a world-class display by [Australian] Cameron Meyer and the Isle of Man's Mark Christian (20) also rode well."

Newton also pointed out that Britain's cyclists separate into five, including the Isle of Man, home nations teams at the Commonwealths, whereas the Australians stay together.

That said, Newton acknowledged that the Aussies had come back strongly from a disappointing display in Beijing that saw them take home a solitary silver medal, as opposed to the seven golds and 12 medals in total that British riders won.

Anna Meares

Meares delighted with record time trial gold

Britain's success in Beijing has probably prompted cycling's world governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI), to make sweeping changes to the track programme.

The Swiss-based organisation would claim otherwise, but many British observers feel the changes to the event schedule, numbers of riders each country is allowed in each event and the qualification process, have all been made to avoid further British domination in 2012.

"Our whitewash in Beijing didn't help," said Newton, who rides for the Rapha Condor team.

"They have combined a lot of the events into one. So you've got more events but they're only for one medal (the omnium).

"That's tough and they need to be quite careful that they don't kill off endurance cycling on the track.

"I think we'll win four golds in London. It's just a simple fact. Four events have been taken out and they've just put two back. Four gold medals is realistic and we'd be pretty delighted to come away with that."

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see also
Australia take more cycling golds
08 Oct 10 |  Commonwealth Games
James wins silver as Aussies rule
07 Oct 10 |  Commonwealth Games
Australia enjoy cycling gold rush
05 Oct 10 |  Commonwealth Games
Olympic qualifying change hits GB
06 May 10 |  Cycling
Retiring Newton to coach GB squad
16 Aug 10 |  Cycling
Lincoln Grand Prix win for Newton
10 May 10 |  Cycling
Newton glad to end wait for medal
26 Mar 09 |  Cycling
Newton rides to World Cup silver
17 Jan 09 |  Cycling

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