Britain And Australia With Points To Prove As Tokyo Turns To The Velodrome
Muhammad Irfan 2 months ago Sun 01st August 2021 | 10:20 AM
Tokyo, Aug 1 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 1st Aug, 2021 ) :After months without opponents or competition, Tokyo 2020's track cyclists take to the start line on Monday with almost no idea what to expect.
Britain's Olympic domination could finally be curtailed but the team that won 12 medals in Rio, including six golds, have a knack of peaking when it matters most.
Last year's world championships in Berlin anointed Denmark as kings of the team pursuit and the Netherlands as all-powerful in sprints, but those victories came in February 2020. A lot can change in 18 months.
At the Izu Velodrome, teams have been gossiping about times and spying on sessions, desperate for an inkling of what might be required.
"Everyone is eavesdropping and looking at each other and wondering how fast they're going," Rasmus Pedersen, part of the Danish team pursuit, told AFP. "There's a lot of talk in dark corners." Britain have previously set the standard but managed only one gold medal at the world championships, where they finished a deflating seventh in the medal table.
"I'm happy about it," Ed Clancy, who won gold for Britain at each of the last three Olympics, told reporters last week. "I think this time we don't have that pressure. We're underdogs, it's fair to call us that." Others are more wary of writing Britain off. "You always want to beat the Brits for sure," said Australia's sprint rider Matthew Glaetzer on Saturday. "They always come up for the Olympics. They never look too fast leading in but you know they're going to deliver." The talk of the velodrome is the Australians have been rapid in practice but they have a point to prove themselves, after a disappointing return in Rio and another poor showing at the world championships.
"We're definitely hoping to turn things around," endurance rider Annette Edmondson said. "We've had the best training we've ever had." With all the delays and disruption, there could be a geographical advantage for the likes of Australia and New Zealand too.
The Americans, led by Chloe Dygert, will be the ones to beat in the women's team pursuit while also in contention are Italy, Germany, New Zealand and Britain, whose team, spearheaded by Laura Kenny, still hold the world record from Rio.
Denmark are the pace-setters in the men's event, after smashing the world record three times in two days last year. "The track is really fast," said Pedersen. "I definitely think it will be broken again. Hopefully it's us that does it." In the sprints, the Dutch are the stand-outs, with Kirsten Wild and Amy Pieters back-to-back world champions in the women's madison, which has been added to the track programme in Japan.
In the men's events, speed demon Harrie Lavreysen claimed world titles in the individual and team sprints, as well as the keirin, with one of the blockbuster match-ups of the week pitching Lavreysen against Britain's medal machine Jason Kenny.