It wasn’t all too long ago that Britain was a nobody in the world of cycling, only winning 3 golds between the 2000 and 2004 Olympics. However, with the help of massive advances in bike engineering and the arrival of some star talent, led by poster boy and girl, Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton, Britain was able to soar to the top of the cycling world, taking 8 gold medals in Beijing and then repeating this feat in front of a home crowd four years later in 2012. Now with these two leaders retired, others are taking up the task for golden success this summer, here are four to keep an eye on:
In 2012, when she was just twenty years old, Trott became a double Olympic gold medallist, enjoying success in the omnium and team pursuit becoming an instant cycling hero. Not only did she win two golds, but in the team pursuit she and her fellow teammates, Danni King and Joannna Rowsell, set a new world record. Now four years on and she seems to be peaking just at the right time to have a shot at becoming the first British Women to win three gold medals at the games. Her best chance will be in the Omnium which she won gold in during the 2016 world track cycling championship. The Omnium, the decathlon equivalent for cycling, includes a series of events that play to her advantages owing to the endurance needed to keep her performance up right through to the end of all the events. As well as good race management which she appears to have in spades as she consistently wins scratch and points races on the world stage, which are notorious for predicting the winner.
Kenny, Trott’s fiancé, started his career under the shadow of Chris Hoy, having to settles for silver in the sprint in 2008 behind his Scottish teammate. However, with Hoy’s retirement Kenny has been able to shine and won both the sprint and team sprint in 2012. He is arguably Britain’s best sprinter going to the games but to return victorious he’ll have to see off up and coming Australian sprinter Matthew Glaezter to win the sprint, the default blue ribbon of the Olympics.
Becky James has worked her way back into the Olympic line-up, despite being out of the picture for two years due to a knee injury sustained in 2014. She’s another one of Britain’s promising sprinters, beating highly experienced Kirstina Vogel, the German speedster, in the 2013 sprint final. She’s now looking for gold in the keirin event to mark her return to the global track stage.
Most of Britain’s prospects for medals are young riders coming through the vigorous selection programmes that British Cycling operates, but among them is the one of the most successful and experienced British Olympians ever. Wiggins made history when he won the Tour De France in 2012 but now he’s set his sights on success in the velodrome. He’s certainly got the legs to add to his impressive haul of medals which includes four golds. In 2015 he broke the hour world record, covering a distance of 54.546km in the allotted sixty minutes. Favouring the endurance races, he is likely to be competing in the men’s team pursuit and will certainly be on the team pipped as one of the favourites.