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British medal hopes right on track, says cycling boss

Updated: 2012-02-22 08:10
( China Daily)

LONDON - British track cycling bosses believe the team can still lead the way at London 2012 despite new rules and the steady comeback of rivals who are determined not to suffer another Olympic nightmare.

Britain's track success in Beijing four years ago when it won seven of the 10 golds left their rivals' dreams in tatters.

However changes to the Olympic program, and new rules meaning only one competitor per nation is allowed in each event have already reduced Britain's scope for success in London.

In the years since Beijing Britain has not always performed to its Olympic best.

But after a four-day World Cup Olympic test event at the London velodrome, high-performance director Dave Brailsford was buoyed by his team's performance.

"This is the best performance across the board for a good couple of years," said Brailsford, whose team won seven medals from 10 Olympic events - four gold, one silver and two bronze.

"It shows we're building momentum, we're heading in the right direction and hopefully we've got our timing right."

His biggest worry seems to be which riders to select for key Olympic battles in London, notably in the men's sprint and team sprint.

Brailsford will also have concerns about a men's pursuit team, which again fell to an impressive Australian quartet that came close to Britain's world record of 3 minutes 53.314 seconds in 3:54.615.

Jason Kenny, the sprint silver medal winner in Beijing, has been pushing four-time Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy for the sole sprint spot for the Games.

Hoy, however, set his Olympic stall out at the weekend in imperious fashion, winning the keirin and a quality-packed sprint tournament.

Although final selection is not due until after the April 4-8 World Championships in Melbourne and Brailsford admitted Hoy had come "back into the form of his life", he said nothing is decided.

"None of the decisions are made yet. We'll see where we are come April, May."

Australia look the real deal in the 16-lap pursuit but Brailsford believes Ed Clancy, Peter Kennaugh, Steven Burke and Geraint Thomas can continue closing the gap.

"If you just take our performance, where it was and where it is now, they have made big strides forward and they're going to continue to get better," said Brailsford.

While Britain won the women's team sprint and team pursuit finals at the weekend, Australia were not far behind.

But in the three-man team sprint, Britain looks to have a real dilemma.

The Olympic champion finished third on Friday as an in-form Germany beat world champion France to the gold.

As "man one" for Britain, Ross Edgar admitted he underperformed in his crucial first lap.

The Scot now faces being shunted aside as Britain looks to secure the fastest possible starter against the super-fast German and French in what looks set to be one of the most hotly-contested finals at the Games.

"We're going to have to look at that very carefully," said Brailsford.

"We decided we'd look to see where Ross was at, but given our performance here, you've got to go faster and you've got to build it from the front."

Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 02/22/2012 page22)

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