Dave Brailsford demands 'grit' from British track cycling team

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Sport in Apeldoorn

Dave Brailsford says his British track cycling team must "knuckle down" for a vital period of training after winning seven European gold medals last week.

Though the haul is impressive, it masks a fruitless outing in the men's team sprint and no individual sprint medals.

"There's a lot of work to be done between now and Christmas. There's nothing fancy, it's hard, hard graft and real grit," said Brailsford.

"It's a foundation [and] if you don't get it right, you're in trouble."

British riders won titles in all four of the races GB entered on Sunday, the final day of the European Championships, but Friday and Saturday brought frustration, particularly in the sprint races.

Sir Chris Hoy withdrew through illness, the men's team sprint failed to contend for medals following a slip at the start of their qualifying run, and Victoria Pendleton could only finish eighth in the women's sprint with Jason Kenny fourth in the men's event.

"It was important that we came away from this on a high," Brailsford, the team's performance director, told BBC Sport.

"When you take the overall event, we've come out with seven golds in the 10 Olympic disciplines, which is a good return.

"We didn't really compete in one - the men's team sprint where we had the mishap - and we'll have to go back to the drawing board on the individual sprints. But, overall, it's a good start to the season."

Nine of the squad will travel to Kazakhstan for the season's first World Cup in two weeks' time, but the remainder will now plunge into a period of intensive training designed to prepare them for a succession of important events in 2012.

The Olympic year begins with the London stage of the World Cup, which will be the first competition held inside the Olympic Velodrome, followed by April's World Championships in Melbourne and the Olympic racing itself.

"Before Christmas we'll go back and do some really hard work. There's no time for messing about now, there can be no substitute for hard work and that's what we're going to do," Brailsford added.

"This is critical and there is no excuse, no frills, no commercial pressures. It's time to knuckle down and do some real hard yards."

Hoy and Jason Queally lost valuable time on the track as a result of the former's illness and the sprint team's failure to reach the medal races, in which Queally - the Sydney Olympics gold medallist who came out of retirement for London 2012 - had been earmarked for a ride.

"They'll be frustrated - they need to race, and they know that," said Brailsford. "The way it panned out, with Chris's illness and the mishap in the team sprint, it's frustrating.

"But they're old warriors, those two. They know how to manage themselves. They're hungry, they want it and it won't be a big setback for them."

And while both pursuit teams rode to gold, the manner of the men's victory was less than convincing, in a time outside the one they had targeted.

Brailsford added: "It was an ugly win, to use the footballing analogy, but you've got to get momentum and start winning - it breeds self-belief.

"But we can be better than that. We know we can. We've got some work to do there."

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