Great Britain track cyclists aim to 'dominate' European Championships

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Olympic sports reporter
Jason Kenny, Jason Queally and Sir Chris Hoy
Jason Kenny, Jason Queally and Sir Chris Hoy are part of the GB team

British Cycling head coach Shane Sutton has called for his team to dominate the track European Championships, which begin on Friday in the Netherlands.

The event in Apeldoorn offers vital points towards Olympic qualification and Great Britain has sent a strong team led by Sir Chris Hoy.

"It's a key Olympic qualifier and a chance to dominate Europe totally," Sutton told BBC Sport.

"This is a major target for us as part of the build-up to the Olympic Games."

Hoy is joined by Victoria Pendleton and Geraint Thomas -

"[All the road cyclists] know that the whole Team Skyexternal-link programme was to enhance the track programme," said Sutton, welcoming Thomas back to the velodrome.

"That's indicated by the way you have elite guys wanting to come back in from the road and ride the Europeans and worlds."

But Sutton believes Bradley Wiggins should be given time before accepting any track commitments for 2012, particularly as the newly announced Tour de France route for next year appears to favour him.

"Brad is in control of his own destiny and he'll advise me of the direction he wants to go in the next few months," said Sutton.

"He has to make big decisions which impact on his status and, if he wants to do the track, that's a bonus.

"He's a massive contender for that Olympic medal on the road. Does he want to come and do the team pursuit? Only he will know."

The immediate priority in Apeldoorn is earning qualification points for the Olympic events, including the women's team pursuit, where Britain are world champions and will be included in a Games for the first time in London.

In most of the 10 Olympic disciplines, British riders have comfortable cushions in the UCI rankings - the lists that determine which nations can send competitors to London.

At the Europeans and the World Cup season beyond, Britain will therefore focus resources on those events where the rankings are in need of improvement.

"We need to push on in women's omnium so we'll attack every World Cup in that area but, in the team pursuit, we're well ahead in the points," said Sutton.

"It's about mapping a pathway for each athlete to go and deliver what we hope is a gold-medal performance."

At the Beijing Games in 2008, UCI rules allowed nations two entries into each event, with Britain, in the shape of Hoy and Jason Kenny, taking gold and silver respectively in the men's sprint.

However, a change of the regulations will see teams allowed only one entry for each discipline in London, so in many cases the Euros will reignite an internal competition as fierce as that with the other leading nations.

"Sir Chris is ticking every box right now and that's evident," said Sutton. "He's going super in the gym and he rocked around the nationals [held in Manchester last month].

"The real Sir Chris Hoy, when he does hit the pump and he does go, is coming back. He doesn't need this, he has medals, but he says he loves it and that will take him all the way to gold medals.

"I'm hoping he, Jason and the rest of the team peak for the World Championships [in Melbourne, next March] because that will be the showdown for everybody.

"We need to go there and race well. Every athlete going to the Worlds will be on the verge of being selected for the Olympics."