Sutton sees bright future
Great Britain's next generation of track cyclists are "heading towards greatness", according to head coach Shane Sutton.
Britain finished top of the medal table with five golds and nine medals in all at the first Track Cycling World Championships of the new Olympic cycle in Minsk.
Those wondering if Britain could replace the likes of the retired Victoria Pendleton and Sir Chris Hoy, who is taking a sabbatical as he ponders his future, by the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro now have their answer. A categorical yes.
"If you look to where we were at the beginning of the last Olympic cycle, I think we're in a much stronger position," said Sutton, who has been influential in the careers of Sir Bradley Wiggins, Hoy and Pendleton as Dave Brailsford's right-hand man at British Cycling.
"You can virtually name your team for Rio now. I think this team is heading towards greatness in four years' time.
"They're joined already as a team, they're a very young squad, and they all get on, they're all on the same page.
"It's quite exciting from my point of view and Dave's point of view to see us come here and see us perform with this particular squad."
In Minsk, there were no signs of a London 2012 hangover as Britain won three more gold medals than in Pruszkow, Poland four years earlier.
Becky James claimed two - in the women's sprint and Keirin - Jason Kenny won the men's Keirin, Simon Yates the points race and the team pursuit squad of Laura Trott, Dani King - the eldest female in the squad at 22 - and 18-year-old A-Level student Elinor Barker also won gold.
Double Olympic champion Trott had to settle for silver in the omnium and there was silver for the men's team pursuit squad of Ed Clancy, Steven Burke, Andy Tennant and Sam Harrison.
James also won two bronze medals, including in the team sprint with Vicky Williamson.
Britain won seven gold medals in Beijing and replicated the haul in London, but struggled to convince in between.
Sutton believes rival nations were simply better before a late surge from the British riders.
He hopes to carry momentum from London 2012 and Minsk through the current squad and enjoy success throughout the run up to, as well as in, Rio.
"If we continue working hard, we will continue to medal well at World Championships," he said.
"We come here to win medals. Medals build momentum. We need to keep this going."
Brailsford was not in Minsk, his commitments to restructuring British Cycling and as Team Sky principal dictating he was required elsewhere.
Sutton, who spoke frequently to Brailsford throughout the five-day event, said: "There's a lot of work for him to do at this moment in time. He's trying to set a pathway for us to go on and be very successful not just in Rio but after."
The restructuring includes considering changes to the coaching group, which could lead Paul Manning to oversee the endurance programme, with Chris Newton as his assistant.
In Minsk, Newton was in charge of the men, on an interim basis, while Manning was continuing his role with the women.
Britain are awaiting confirmation from the International Cycling Union of the qualification criteria for the 2016 Games.
It may be that individuals have to qualify their own places, first for the Track World Cup events, then for the World Championships and also for the Olympics.
That would mean should, for example, Mark Cavendish wish to pursue the ambition he stated at London 2012 and ride in the team pursuit in Rio, he would have to commit to the track.
Sutton welcomed the prospect, but he does not expect four-time Olympic gold medallist Wiggins, a 2008 team pursuit champion who also talked about a track return after winning the Tour de France, to be seen in the velodrome.
Sutton also predicts two-time Olympic team pursuit champion Geraint Thomas will now focus totally on his road career, which has already shown glimpses of his potential.
Reminiscent of comments on Hoy at the 2008 Games in Beijing - Sutton said Britain would be doing something wrong if the Scot was still the quickest individual sprinter, aged 36, in London - Sutton suggested Thomas' team pursuit career is over.
"If G comes back, we are not doing our jobs," said Sutton, who thinks Peter Kennaugh, another Team Sky rider, might return.
"We should be going too quick. The chances of him coming back are minimal."