Track Cycling World Cup: GB to be more intense - Brailsford

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Olympic sports reporter
Track Cycling World Cup: GB women break world record to take pursuit gold

Britain's track cyclists will be "more intense" in the run-up to Rio 2016 than in previous years, performance director Dave Brailsford has told BBC Sport.

After GB won eight World Cup medals in Manchester, Brailsford believes the nature of his squad has changed.

"The average age of this team is probably one of the youngest in a long time," said Brailsford.

"There's an enthusiasm, a youth if you like. We're going to race more intensely than we have in the past."

British riders won four titles at the weekend's Track World Cup: both team pursuits, the women's individual pursuit and the women's omnium.

Only Germany could live with Great Britain at the event, winning five medals, all of them gold. Three came courtesy of Kristina Vogel, who won the sprint and keirin after taking team sprint gold with Miriam Welte.

Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell both took gold in two events for Britain while the weekend also saw the continued emergence of Scottish teenager Katie Archibald, who won two medals.

"We're approaching this Olympic cycle differently because of the age of the group," said Brailsford.

"After London 2012 we lost a lot of key players, like Victoria Pendleton and Sir Chris Hoy, out of this squad.

"We haven't got a big squad, but it's big enough to create internal competition, which is what you want. One thing coaches can't create is that feeling of looking over shoulder, of pressure from behind for selection. But equally it's manageable and we're a tight group."

Trott wins World Cup gold in omnium

Britain's endurance riders had the weekend's best results on paper. The women's team pursuit broke the world record twice in one day - and for the third time in a fortnight - on the way to gold, a result the men soon replicated.

Trott, who won team pursuit and omnium gold at London 2012, produced superb rides in the six-discipline omnium's final three races to add a second gold on Sunday. Joanna Rowsell's second gold came in the individual pursuit, with Archibald third.

"The women's team pursuit were superb," said Brailsford. "They are a step up from the rest of the world at the minute."

The women's team pursuit now involves four riders racing over four kilometres under new rules introduced this season. At London 2012, Trott, Rowsell and Dani King won as a three-woman team over three kilometres.

Brailsford wants more intensity

"To be fair to Laura, Dani and Jo, they were a step above everybody in the last Olympic cycle too," added Brailsford.

"Now, it's a different event. We've got a squad of nine together, which is phenomenal. But their desire to keep on working is what really matters and it's contagious, which is exciting."

British strength in depth is likely to keep them ahead of their rivals - the closest being Canada, Australia, Russia and the United States - for some time as other nations struggle to find a reliable fourth rider. So how does Britain come to boast nine riders to choose from?

"I'd like to say it's the growth of the sport. Here you get to see the people at the highest level, but behind that there's a mammoth amount of work going on in the clubs and around the country," said Brailsford.

"That's widened the base of our pyramid. The talent coming through now is coming through in greater breadth and depth. Katie Archibald, bursting onto the scene as she has, is a great example of that."

On the sprint side of the squad, double world champion Becky James expressed pleasant surprise at silver medals in the keirin and team sprint, plus bronze in the individual sprint, having just returned from a month racing on the Japanese keirin circuit.

But Olympic sprint champion Jason Kenny failed to come through qualifying in the event in Manchester, a rarity for a top British rider, and also missed out on a keirin medal.

Brailsford said: "Jason not qualifying here this morning I think is a good thing, personally. It will be a bitter pill for him to swallow but it will wake him up, and they are the important things at this stage of the Olympic cycle.

"Reputations don't matter. It doesn't matter who you are, you have to earn your place. He has to get his head down and graft."

He added: "Do I have any real concerns? No. Everything is in place at this moment in time."

Two more World Cups remain on the schedule - though only one venue has been confirmed, in Mexico next month - before February's World Championships in Cali, Colombia.

"We might juggle up the line-ups in the teams a bit in Cali, and try a few things out," concluded Brailsford.

"There is still time to test things out and experiment a little bit. Cali gives us the opportunity for that and we'll see what happens."