LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s track cyclists are ready to land another bagful of medals at the Olympics, according to 1992 Barcelona Games individual pursuit winner Chris Boardman.
In Beijing four years ago the team scooped wins in seven of the 10 competitions and they are already underway in London with one victory from two events.
Standing trackside on Thursday after watching Chris Hoy pick up a fifth gold medal in the men’s team sprint, Boardman told Reuters in an interview that the desire of his compatriots was as strong as he had ever seen it.
“They’ve been getting personal bests (PB) in training and when you’ve had a career as long as Vicky (Pendleton) or Chris, to PB in training is a big deal,” said the Englishman who was the first Briton to capture cycling gold in 72 years.
Pendleton, a nine-times world champion and Hoy, who became the first Briton in 100 years at the 2008 Games to win three golds at a single Olympics, were part of the Beijing squad.
“The form of the British team is really there. It’s better than I would have projected and I’ve been around them a lot,” said Boardman.
“Vicky’s going to go into the keirin and the sprint in great shape. And Chris? He hasn’t finished yet.”
Boardman, like thousands of Britons in the ‘wall of noise’ Olympic velodrome on the first night of track cycling, bemoaned the misfortune that befell the women’s sprint team of Pendleton and Jessica Varnish, disqualified for an illegal changeover.
”I‘m still stuck saying ‘aarrgghh’ for the women’s team sprint. That would have been perfect. Clearly the form was there.
“Poor Jess Varnish does one lap in four years, that was her thing, and that one technicality blows it all away. It’s tragic.”
It was a mere blot on the landscape for home cycling, enjoying its finest era across the board after Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour de France last month.
“It’s been unprecedented. I stood on the Champs Elysees and I watched the yellow jersey wearer, a Briton, about to win the Tour for the first time,” said Boardman.
Wiggins stormed to victory in the world’s greatest road race over compatriot Chris Froome while another Briton, Mark Cavendish, won the Tour’s final stage.
“You’re surely not going to see that level ever again,” added Boardman who, after cycling on the track and road, is now working behind the scenes trying to develop the sport in Britain.
“It’s been interesting to be involved on both sides of the fence. It’s been a fascinating journey,” said the 43-year-old who will stop all involvement after the Olympics.
Editing by Tony Jimenez