KENNY leads British team sprint charge as riders chase first track cycling golds
GLASGOW - Six-time Olympic Games gold medallist Jason KENNY is expected to spearhead Great Britain's challenge in the men's team sprint as the first track cycling gold medals of the Glasgow 2018 European Championships are contested at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, Emirates Arena, on Friday.
Britain have won the past three Olympic Games gold medals in the event but their quartet are expected to be challenged all the way in Glasgow by the Netherlands, whose squad includes the current world and European 1km time trial champion, Jeffrey HOOGLAND.
"Obviously my goal is getting on the podium (and) I think I have more chance in the team sprint because we are the world champions," HOOGLAND said. "It's a nice feeling but you were just champion in that moment, on that day. You have to prove yourself to be world champion the next time, too."
The defending European champions are France, whose team should feature the three-time Olympic silver medallist and nine-time world champion, Gregory BAUGE, and the six-time world champion, Francois PERVIS.
In the women's team sprint, world champion and London 2012 gold medallist Miriam WELTE (GER) has admitted to taking a more cautious approach to training in Glasgow after her long-standing team partner, the double Olympic champion Kristina VOGEL, suffered a career-threatening spinal injury during training in June.
"She's a good friend of mine, we were successful together and supported each other wherever we went," WELTE said. "It's the first important international race I'm not doing with her so I think the team sprint will be very tough for me."
Russia will start as favourites to defend their European title with a quartet that should include Rio 2016 silver medallists Daria SHMELEVA and Anastasiia VOINOVA.
In the scratch races, 35-year-old women's world champion Kirsten WILD (NED) was in a pragmatic mood as she prepares to go head-to-head with European champion Trine SCHMIDT (DEN).
"Of course I feel that many people will expect something from me and will be watching me, but there are a lot of good riders here," WILD said. "I've done a lot more road racing and now it's back again to the track, so I don't know how my body will react to this swap."
World champion Yauheni KARALIOK of Belarus and defending champion Adrien GAREL (FRA) are both expected to shine in the men's event.
The team pursuit golds will also be decided on Friday, with Great Britain, Italy and France all expected to have eased through qualifying for the men's and women's events on Thursday evening.
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