The Manchester track world cup, which takes place between Friday, February 23rd and Sunday, February 25th, will be an important form tester for riders aiming at the world track championships in Mallorca at the end of the March. Four reigning Olympic champions - Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins, Ryan Bayley and Anna Meares - gave their thoughts on the event at a pre-race press conference in Manchester on Thursday.
Britain's Chris Hoy said, "It's quite a big weekend for me in terms of the volume of racing with the kilo on Friday, the sprint on Saturday and the team sprint and Japanese Keirin on Sunday. The results are important but it is also a sort of dress rehearsal for the world championships."
Hoy's compatriot Bradley Wiggins was sporting a black eye and seven stitches after having an accident on the rollers last week. "I was training last Thursday and the towel got caught in the front wheel and it catapulted backwards at quite a speed," he said. "There was a danger that I might not be able to ride this weekend as I had quite a nasty gash at the time but things seemed to heal quite quickly over the weekend ... It would have been a shame to miss the world cup in Manchester." Wiggins will race in the men's 4000m individual and team pursuits.
Double Olympic medallist Ryan Bayley wants to secure his spot on the Australian team for the world's. "I am pretty sure that we have got enough spots but I would rather do it on my own merits," he said. "I will be riding the sprint and the team sprint and then the JKA Keirin on Sunday. All of the best sprinters in the world are here for that and I am looking forward to it. It's always a hard race."
Finally, Anna Meares has a change of partner in the women's team sprint and won't be riding with her sister Kerrie. "Kerrie is at home in Adelaide," said Anna. "I will be riding the team sprint with Kristine Bayley. Kerrie hasn't done a qualifying time to ride for the Australian team at the world championships yet and she has until Sunday to do it, and then it will be between Kerrie and Kristine who rides at the world's in the team sprint."
The current 500m time trial record holder had considered a new record attempt on the super-fast Manchester track. "I am tempted," she said. "But I just feel that there is no need for me to ride another 500 until the world champs. I am chasing the rainbow jersey this year for that event particularly. I just don't think it is necessary to really push myself after some tough competitions and a thirty-hour flight because I can write myself off after two laps. I don't want to do that with four weeks to go to the world championships."
More information: www.worldtrackcycling.com