Wales' Elinor Barker acknowledges Great Britain women's team pursuit squad will face fierce competition at this year's Olympic Games in Rio.
Team GB recently had to settle for bronze at the World Track Cycling Championships in London.
Barker, 21, was disappointed and says the team face a battle to hold on to the title won at London 2012.
"To finish third seems like a massive defeat but it just shows how much other teams are progressing," she said.
The United States have emerged as rivals ahead of Rio 2016, after they came within three seconds of the world record in winning team pursuit gold ahead of Canada.
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Before this year's Championships, Britain's women had won six out of eight team pursuit world titles, finishing second on the other two occasions.
"The GB women's team pursuit has always been very dominant," Barker told BBC Wales Sport.
"Since 2008 there have only been a couple of occasions where we've finished second and not first.
"There are now five or six very, very competitive countries and anybody could win it. It's really going to be exciting to watch."
Great Britain's quartet of Barker, fellow Welsh rider Ciara Horne, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell Shand failed to qualify for the gold medal race after a ride described as the "most fractious in years."
They put in a better performance to beat New Zealand to claim bronze.