Great Britain’s cyclists will bid to overcome the elements and the opposition at the Track World Championships in Cali, Colombia, this week in a bid to prove their ongoing dominance of the velodrome.
The Velodromo Alcides Nieto Patino has a roof but few walls and Monday’s torrential rain disrupted training sessions prior to today’s start of the championships as the wooden track was soaked. More rain is forecast.
After a season in which times have plummeted in many events at Track World Cup rounds at altitude in Mexico, the end-of-term finale is likely to be slower as two-times Olympic champion and four-times world champion Laura Trott explained ahead of the women’s team pursuit on Thursday’s second day.
Trott said: “It’s got a roof, but the sides are open, so it’s really windy. When you look at a team pursuit team, it looks ragged, but that’s the way the track runs. In the bankings you’re off the wheel and in the straights you’re on the wheel.
“I don’t think the track’s going to be anywhere near as fast as Mexico, where the girls broke the record. I don’t think the world record will go, but you never know.”
Britain have won five of the six world titles contested in the women’s team pursuit, which, for the first time at a world championships, will be contested over four kilometres with four riders.
A British quartet of Joanna Rowsell, Dani King, Elinor Barker and Katie Archibald clocked a world record of four minutes 16.552 seconds at altitude in the December Track World Cup round in Aguascalientes and, together with Trott, will be favourites for the event.
Since the increase in the event’s distance, Britain have become more dominant, although Canada, Australia, the United States and New Zealand could challenge in Cali.
Rowsell said: “I was pleasantly surprised by our time in Mexico, because we went through 3k quicker than we went through 3k in London at the Olympics.
“That was the first time we went quicker than Games pace. I knew we’d get to that point, I didn’t think we’d get to that point this winter.
“We’ve progressed quicker than I imagined.”
One event in which Britain have struggled outside of Olympic Games is the men’s team sprint, which takes place on day one.
Not since 2005 in Los Angeles in a team including Sir Chris Hoy, who is in Cali in a mentoring role for his first world championships since his official retirement, have Britain’s men won the world title, despite winning 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold in the event.
Germany are flying, with Rene Enders, Robert Forstemann and Joachim Eilers setting a world record of 41.871secs in Aguascalientes. France, Russia, New Zealand and Australia have potential in the event, but so too do Britain, according to three-times Olympic champion Jason Kenny.
“Germany obliterated the world record in Mexico and they’ve been going well all year,” Kenny explained.
“We’ve not been going that bad, but everyone else has stepped forward, so we’ve slipped down the order a little bit.”
The start is key, so all the attention will be on London 2012 gold medallist Phil Hindes.
“If you have a bad start it’s difficult to get that back, it’s over so quickly,” Kenny added.
The three-man, three-lap event takes place on the opening day, along with the corresponding women’s event, with two women, over two laps.
Olympic champions Kristina Vogel and Miriam Welte are defending world champions, but Australia’s Anna Meares is back after an extended post-Olympic break which saw her miss last year’s world championships in Minsk.
Briton Becky James won two individual world titles in Belarus and is likely to combine with Jess Varnish or Vicky Williamson in the team event.
The men’s team pursuit will be another day one highlight, with Olympic champions Britain bidding to regain the world title they lost to Australia 12 months ago.