Track Cycling World Cup: Riders await Manchester roar
Last updated on .From the section Cycling
The world's leading track cyclists expect one of the best atmospheres in the sport when racing begins at the Manchester Track World Cup on Friday.
"I'm super-excited to have a massive crowd on our side. It'll be like the Olympics again," said Laura Trott, a double gold medallist at London 2012.
German Olympic champion Kristina Vogel told BBC Sport: "It's always amazing to ride in Manchester. It's so loud."
Team pursuit and team sprint races begin the World Cup on Friday.
The men's omnium and keirin titles are decided alongside the women's individual sprint on Saturday, with the women's omnium, women's keirin and men's sprint concluding the event on Sunday.
Trott, who won team pursuit and omnium gold at London 2012 and took both European titles earlier this month, insists she is no more a marked woman than any of her rivals.
"I don't really think about [being the rider to beat]," she told BBC Sport. "I have to beat them, too. They have targets on their backs for me.
"The omnium is a challenge. I have so many ups and downs - at the Euros I crashed, so I had loads of ups and downs in a day. One minute I love it; the next, 'what am I doing?'
"I get a buzz from it being so emotional as well. It's hard on your legs, it's such a long competition, but it's draining on your emotions as well. It's good going into the 500m, going: 'Is she going to win, or isn't she?'"
The 500m time trial is the last and deciding discipline of the omnium, while the crowd-pleasing eliminator element is scheduled for Saturday's evening session.
The 21-year-old will first take to the track alongside Dani King, Joanna Rowsell and Elinor Barker in the new-look women's team pursuit on Friday.
This year, the race has been revamped from a three-woman, 12-lap race to a four-woman, 16-lap format bringing the event in line with the men's equivalent.
In a debut senior year she describes as "pretty nuts," 19-year-old Barker has helped GB to world and European pursuit gold in 2013.
She told BBC Sport: "It's pretty nerve-wracking most of the time. They are such high-profile girls and they'd just won the Olympics. I didn't want to be the first one to let them down, but they were really nice and welcoming."
Barker made her debut at last year's Glasgow World Cup - the first event in the UK since the Olympics.
"If [Manchester] is anything like Glasgow last year, it'll be absolutely amazing," she said. "Glasgow was the first and last time I've had a home crowd, so I'm really looking forward to it."
Among Britain's sprinters, Becky James and Jason Kenny - both of whom won world titles in Minsk in February - believe they can improve on their recent form in Manchester.
"I'm not coming into this World Cup in the best form of my life and I'm not expecting too much of myself," said James, whose sprint and keirin world titles helped her assume the retired Victoria Pendleton's role of leading British sprinter.
"If I haven't got that speed at the moment, that's what I want to have by the end of February. I want to be on top form and top speed by the World Championships [in Cali, Colombia, in late February 2014]."
James will pair up with Jess Varnish - whose 2013 has been blighted by a back injury - in the women's team sprint, while the two will go head-to-head in the individual sprint.
Kenny, who like James missed out on a European gold medal this month, said: "The Europeans didn't go terribly well, but hopefully we'll be a bit nearer the pace. It does help being at home."
His first task is to race with Philip Hindes and Kian Emadi in Friday's team sprint, an event in which Britain missed the podium completely at this year's Europeans and Worlds.
"We've got a really good team, it's not like we've fallen to bits," said Kenny. "But it's always been a weakness of ours - considering we are the Olympic champions in Beijing and London, we haven't won anything in between.
"For whatever reason we've been the Olympic champions but never able to get it out at a World Championships, which is really annoying. It would be nice to sort that out this year.
"We've got the potential. The goal in Manchester is to make sure we do our best and hopefully it'll put us on the top spot."