All-star British team aim to retake track cycling crown from Germany
GLASGOW - Great Britain have assembled a powerful track cycling squad for the Glasgow 2018 European Championships as they attempt to harness home advantage and regain the upper hand on Germany in the UEC European Championships.
While Germany won five gold medals last time out as they dominated on home soil, only Miriam WELTE will be in Glasgow to defend her European title in the 500m time trial.
"We had a perfect European championships in Berlin last year. It's always hard to do this again but we try," WELTE said after training on Tuesday.
Among the big names missing from the German squad is multiple world and double Olympic champion sprinter Kristina VOGEL, who suffered a serious spinal injury after colliding with another rider during training at the Cottbus velodrome in June.
Great Britain, in contrast, have been able to name all four of their gold medallists from Berlin in an experienced squad that features seven current Olympic champions.
"The British team is the strongest I've seen since Rio (2016 Olympic Games)," said six-time Olympic track gold medallist Sir Chris HOY (GBR), after whom the velodrome in Glasgow is named. "It's such a competitive group. The reason they're all doing so well is that they are pushing each other on."
One of the magnificent seven is Katie ARCHIBALD (GBR), the defending European individual pursuit champion who was in the team pursuit quartet that smashed the world record in the final at Rio 2016.
The Scot is rejoined in the six-person British squad by Elinor BARKER and Laura KENNY, who won three Olympic gold medals as Laura TROTT before marrying team-mate Jason KENNY in September 2016.
“There is a certainly a lot of depth in Great Britain which makes us an intimidating nation," ARCHIBALD said on Tuesday. "When we're doing video analysis of other teams we can feel quite confident that we know the pairs that will be the 'A' teams, whereas I think that it's not quite that easy with us.”
In the individual events, ARCHIBALD (GBR) can expect another strong challenge from Kirsten WILD (NED), whom she edged into silver in the omnium in Berlin and in the madison at the world championships in Apeldoorn in March.
The 35-year-old Dutch ace, however, has claimed seven world and European championship medals of her own in the past 12 months, including world titles in the omnium, scratch and points races, and the European title in the elimination race. WILD will likewise be wary of Trine SCHMIDT, the Danish European champion in the points and scratch races.
On the men's side, the European and world individual pursuit champion, Filippo GANNA (ITA), is again expected to be challenged by the man he beat into second for both titles, Ivo OLIVEIRA of Portugal, who will also compete in the madison with his twin brother, Rui.
GANNA was part of the Italian quartet that lost the team pursuit final in Berlin to France, whose team for Glasgow is expected to include defending European madison champions Florian MAITRE and Benjamin THOMAS. Great Britain should also be strong, with Ed CLANCY and Steven BURKE boasting five Olympic team pursuit gold medals between them.
In the omnium, the Olympic and two-time European champion Elia VIVIANI (ITA) will go head-to-head with world champion Szymon SAJNOK (POL).
Great Britain's challenge in the men's sprint races will be spearheaded by KENNY, whose six Olympic gold medals, won across the team, individual and keirin events, places him alongside HOY as Great Britain's most decorated athlete.
The British team sprint quartet will be challenged by the world champions from the Netherlands - who include current world and European 1km time trial champion Jeffrey HOOGLAND - and the European champions from France, whose squad includes three-time Olympic silver medallist and nine-time world champion, Gregory BAUGE, and the six-time world champion Francois PERVIS.
The Glasgow 2018 track cycling competition will run from 2-7 August at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, Emirates Arena. For a guide to all 22 medal events, click here.
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