By Martyn Herman
LONDON, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Jason and Laura Kenny will spearhead Britain’s assault on the world track championships in Berlin this month after being named in a high-powered squad on Monday.
The husband and wife duo have 10 Olympic gold medals between them with sprinter Jason needing just one more to move past track cycling great Chris Hoy as Britain’s most successful Olympian. They share the record with six.
Endurance rider Laura Kenny, formerly Trott, is a four-time Olympic gold-medallist.
There was no place in the squad for Mark Cavendish who won the silver medal on the track in the omnium in Rio de Janeiro and who hoped to be considered for the madison event in Tokyo.
While it rules out Cavendish, who has 30 Tour de France stage wins, from the Olympic track programme he could still ride on the road in Tokyo.
The world championships in Berlin is a dress rehearsal for the Tokyo Olympics when track cycling’s heavyweight nations, namely Britain, Australia, the Netherlands, the U.S. and Germany, will be looking to score some psychological points.
Olympic medallists Ed Clancy, Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker, Phil Hindes and Katy Marchant are also included.
Twenty riders will form the British squad in Berlin, with many looking to secure their spots for Tokyo.
“The bar in track cycling is continuously being raised, which is great for keeping the sport healthy, but also means the fight for every medal is much tougher so Berlin will be interesting,” Stephen Park, British Cycling’s performance director said in a statement.
“The world championships in Berlin mark an important milestone on the path to the Olympic Games for the track cyclists and, as has always been our clear intention for this stage of the cycle, our focus now is on those riders who we believe have the potential to win a medal in Tokyo.”
Barker was Britain’s only gold medallist at last year’s world track championships in Poland, that coming in the scratch race. She was also part of the team pursuit squad beaten to gold by Australia, after which Laura Kenny withdrew from the competition because of illness.
“Training has been going well, and it feels like everything is starting to come together for the team now so I’m excited to see how my team mates and I get on in Berlin,” said Barker, part of Britain’s women’s team pursuit squad that won Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro.
In the London world championships before the 2016 Games, Britain topped the medal table with five golds before dominating on the Rio boards by claiming six of the 10 golds on offer, including three for Jason Kenny and two for Laura Kenny. (Reporting by Martyn Herman Editing by Christian Radnedge)