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Page last updated at 16:31 GMT, Monday, 21 March 2011

Track Worlds 2011: Pendleton is up for Olympic fight

World Track Championships
Venue: Apeldoorn, Netherlands Dates: 23-27 March
Coverage: Watch and listen live across the BBC - full coverage details

Victoria Pendleton

Pendleton in top form for Worlds

By Ollie Williams

Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton says she has regained form and focus ahead of this week's Track World Championships in the Netherlands.

Pendleton, 30, won sprint gold at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing but recently admitted to "lacking a bit of the hunger" in the build-up to London 2012.

However, she told BBC Sport "progress has been made" since last month's Track World Cup in Manchester.

"It being a home Olympics, it would be crazy not to commit 100%," she said.

Pendleton managed only two bronze medals at the World Cup in February - in the sprint and keirin - and, alongside Shanaze Reade, failed to reach the medal rounds of the team sprint.

"I wasn't feeling very confident in my form going into the World Cup and that, for me, has a really big impact on how I perform," she said.

You can't win everything, sport would be very dull if that was the case

Victoria Pendleton

"I knew my form wasn't where I wanted it to be, because I was being patient for the World Championships and peaking twice in such a short time is quite difficult. But it's difficult because people still have expectations.

"It's a no-win situation because people will still pick you up if you don't win - but you can't win everything, sport would be very dull if that was the case."

Shane Sutton, British Cycling's head coach, said: "I've read bits and bobs in the media but Vicky's very stable and well on-track for the target she set herself of three medals.

"People may have misinterpreted what she said - she's up for this fight 100%, we need to put that to bed straight away. She's down there on that track and you don't put yourself through that every day unless you want it."

Sutton believes spectators will see "a new Vicky" at the World Championships, adding: "I've a long association with her. We're talking 13 world medals (in her career) and that's pretty impressive.

"I feel we can add to that big-time over this next week. There were two little things I saw in the World Cup that showed me she has that raw speed which has killed off opponents in the past - we're starting to see her right back on her game.

You've got half a gold medal in your hand, nobody can beat Victoria Pendleton over the second lap, but you've got to put the front end on

Shane Sutton
GB head coach

"At the start of the season she was in that 'process' mode of trying to gain certain strengths in certain areas, now she's tapered and she looks really good to me."

Pendleton goes into the Apeldoorn velodrome defending her sprint world title from the likes of China's Guo Shuang and Australian rival Anna Meares, and remains a strong contender for keirin and team sprint honours.

She is expected to race alongside 20-year-old team-mate Jess Varnish, who has been promoted ahead of Reade, in the team sprint.

Varnish broke the 19-second barrier with the time of her opening lap at February's World Cup, enough to grab the attention of the British selectors.

"Seeing young Jess step up is a real bonus," Sutton told BBC Sport, "not just for her but for the coaching team, who worked very hard on that to make sure we accommodated Vicky - the fastest girl in the world.

"You've got half a gold medal in your hand, nobody can beat Victoria Pendleton over the second lap, but you've got to put the front end on.

"They've a very good working relationship. That marker has been 19 seconds, she's already broken that, we're moving forward again and that's fantastic."

Pendleton added: "I'm absolutely blown away by the progress Jess has made in the last 12 months - she's really excelled in moving that first lap time way forward.

"With that first lap being so fast, it gives me a good opportunity to continue the speed. It's all about being 'delivered' at the fastest speed."

Varnish believes her fresh outlook on the pursuit of an Olympic title may also help to reinvigorate Pendleton's own quest for gold in 2012.

"To me it's a very exciting time, I've never experienced anything like this before," said Varnish.

"I think maybe Victoria can see my point of view sometimes and I know it's still in there for her.

"Vicky and I get on really well. She's someone I've looked up to since I was a younger rider and to be in the team sprint with her is amazing."

Meanwhile, Shanaze Reade has not ruled out competing in both the track cycling and BMX events at next year's Olympics.

The 22-year-old, one of GB's leading medal hopes, said: "I'm not ruling out doing track cycling in 2012 but BMX will be my main focus until 2012.

"It's a hard task making the British team for track cycling, but I'm an ambitious person and I'll try to make that team.

"I've got great coaches in Grant White and Ian Dyer. I have 100% faith in them and if there's a point they think we should do one and not the other, I'll believe in them and do what they tell me to do."

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see also
GB show signs of Olympic promise
20 Feb 11 |  Cycling
Pendleton admits to 2012 pressure
17 Feb 11 |  Cycling
Pendleton strikes World Cup gold
19 Dec 10 |  Cycling
Briton Pendleton wins sprint gold
19 Aug 08 |  Cycling

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