sport

Clancy excited by GB potential

Ed Clancy is excited at the young talent at Great Britain's disposal ahead of next week's Track Cycling World Championships.

On Wednesday in Minsk, Belarus, the World Championships begin with Britain fielding a 16-rider team featuring six Olympic champions, including Clancy.

The 27-year-old Yorkshireman is twice an Olympic team pursuit champion and was trying the team sprint until the experiment was cut short and he was parachuted back into the more familiar surroundings of the four-man, four-kilometre event.

With Olympic champions Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh concentrating on the road, Clancy is part of a new-look team featuring fellow London 2012 gold medallist Steven Burke, 2012 world champion Andy Tennant and Sam Harrison, who won world bronze in 2011.

Jon Dibben, Owain Doull and Simon Yates will make their senior World Championship debuts as part of the men's endurance squad and will also aim to make the team pursuit squad.

Now the team's elder statesman, Clancy draws comparisons with his emergence alongside Thomas, who also won Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012.

"I feel old," said Clancy, who in London was part of the team which clocked a world record three minutes 51.659 seconds in claiming gold.

"It only seems like yesterday that me and Geraint were the young kids - there was Paul Manning and Bradley (Wiggins), Rob Hayles and Chris Newton, who is our coach now.

"When I was 18, I don't want to speak for Geraint, but I was completely useless.

"They are stepping into a team that is hopefully riding sub-four minutes times and these days, you think that isn't too exciting, but back in my day it had only been done once or twice by an Australian team that was absolutely on fire.

"If they keep going, it will be exciting."

With Thomas and Kennaugh now focused on their road careers with Team Sky, Clancy hopes the production line of British team pursuit talent will continue.

"There are six or seven young guys in the academy and a lot of them are quite keen on the track - they don't just want to grow up and be road riders, which is good news for guys like me and Burkey," Clancy said.

"We need more team pursuiters to come through. Jon Dibben and Owain Doull are quite exciting - they are only 18-years-old and they are so much better than me and Geraint were at their age.

"You don't know how they are going to progress, but if they have some sort of progression, they are going to be good riders."

The favourable comparisons will inevitably lead to suggestions of a certain Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The men's team pursuit triumphs were among the most staggeringly dominant of Britain's haul of seven track golds in 2008 and 2012, but Clancy has played down the prospect of an even greater bounty in 2016.

"I guess in theory it is possible to win everything, but it's unlikely - it is unlikely we are going to produce the same results," Clancy added.

"There is no point in saying anything different, and why put any more pressure on ourselves? It is boring, but we will do our best and that is all we can do.

"What we have done in the last two Olympics isn't normal. If we do it again, it will be absolutely fantastic, but I don't think people should expect it.

"We have all the basics there to replicate a similar performance. Time will tell."

Victoria Pendleton has retired and Sir Chris Hoy, still deliberating whether he will continue on to the 2014 Commonwealth Games, is almost certainly not going to be present in Rio.

While the talismanic duo are no longer in Olympic contention, Tour de France champion Wiggins and serial road winner Mark Cavendish have expressed their interest in returning to the track and the team pursuit.

Newton, currently presiding over the men's squad, has said if the pair are serious they would have to commit totally for two years, effectively sacrificing their road careers.

Clancy, who knows both Wiggins and Cavendish well, said: "I don't know whether it will happen. Those boys have got so much going on on the road for them.

"(But) I'd love Cav and Brad to come back for one last hurrah."