GB cyclists fall short but Stephen Park vows to keep calm

Great Britain could not add to their tally of four medals on the final day of the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Pruszkow, Poland but insisted there was no cause for alarm with less than 18 months to go to the Tokyo Olympics.

Irelands Lydia Boylan snatched a silver medal in Poland. Picture: AFP/Getty
Irelands Lydia Boylan snatched a silver medal in Poland. Picture: AFP/Getty

After Katy Marchant was eliminated in the quarter-finals of the women’s keirin, Ethan Hayter and Ollie Wood were seventh in the men’s Madison, while Scottish rider Neah Evans finished seventh in the women’s points race.

Instead it was Ireland who were celebrating after that race as Lydia Boylan used a late attack to snatch silver.

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Britain’s only gold this week came in a non-Olympic event as Elinor Barker won the women’s scratch race, while the two team pursuit squads collected silver behind Australia and there was bronze for Hayter in the men’s omnium. That left Britain down in sixth place in a medals table dominated by Australia and Holland, and reflecting on missed opportunities in several races.

Britain have been here before of course, and at the same stage in the last Olympic cycle, they took just three silver medals from the 2015 worlds before cleaning up in Rio with six golds and four silvers.

British Cycling’s performance director Stephen Park is confident history can repeat itself.

“We wanted to be in a position where we knew there would be some runway still left as we move towards Tokyo,” he said. “I think for sure that is the case.

“I think some of the results were a little disappointing. We would have hoped for more. Part of that is being a bit unlucky in a couple of the events and we’ve also come up short in a couple of events. That doesn’t fill me with any fear. They will be hungry for more, absolutely desperate to bridge that gap. If anything it’s going to be the spur that’s going to pull people together.”

The most obvious concerns are on the sprint side. The best result all week was Jack Carlin’s fifth place in the men’s keirin, and the struggles of the women’s team continued despite the welcome sight of Vicky Williamson returning to this level three years after a career-threatening crash.

Marchant rode every event on the back of a hectic World Cup schedule but after reaching the keirin quarter-finals finished last in her heat. “For Great Britain we have had a very average competition,” the Rio bronze medallist said. “But I had a look back at where we were in Paris four years ago and we were about where we are now. So I would say we’re definitely going in the right direction.”

The best chances of another medal came on the endurance side, but Hayter and Wood admitted they did not have the legs to challenge in the 200-lap Madison race, while Evans said tactical errors cost her in the points race.

“You live and you learn,” said the 28-year-old former vet, making her world championships debut. “Fitness wise I feel I was quite good; I was just lacking some execution points, which is fine because it’s 18 months until the Olympics and we’ve got a long time to work on things and we wouldn’t want to be our best now. It’s all about the Olympics, not the world championships.”