Team GB have finished the Olympic track cycling events with six gold medals and a dramatic improvement in their times, despite failing to win a single event in last year’s World Championship.
The British team did not win an event at the 2015 World Championships in Paris but stepped up for the most recent worlds, claiming five gold medals at the London meet in March.
In just five months, cyclist Jason Kenny shaved a valuable 0.21 seconds off his time to claim gold in Rio, while Laura Trott and her Olympic gold medal winning women’s team improved by ten seconds.
The men’s team pursuit team of Ed Clancy, Steven Burke, Owain Doull and Bradley Wiggins also claimed a world record in Rio this week – three seconds faster than they managed in March.
The dramatic improvement on their times since March has prompted a chorus of Olympic athletes and coaches to question how the team could perform so much better across the board in such a short amount of time.
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Britain’s Jason Kenny shows off his Olympic gold medal for the men’s sprint, having gone more than 0.2 seconds quicker than he did at the World Championships in March
TeamGB’s 2016 Olympic gold medal winning women’s team pursuit quartet of Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell-Shand, Katie Archibald and Elinor Barker broke the world record with a time six seconds faster than they managed at the 2016 World Championships
Team GB have finished the Olympic track cycling events with six gold medals after they failed to win a single event at the 2015 World Championships
Bradley Wiggins helped the British men’s team pursuit to Olympic gold with a world record time that was more than three seconds quicker than their effort at the 2016 world champs
TeamGB won six of the nine track events they entered at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, including the men’s team pursuit (above)
Aussie star Anna Meares claimed she was ‘scratching her head’ at Team GB’s displays in the velodrome in Rio, although she later backtracked and insisted she was not insinuating that British riders were ‘cheating or doing anything suspicious’.
French sprint coach Laurent Gané added to the controversy when he said: ‘The recipe should be asked for from our neighbours because I don’t understand. I don’t know what they’re doing. I’d love to know. These are teams that do nothing extraordinary for four years and once they arrive at the Olympics they out-class the rest of the world.’
And German star Kristina Vogel poured more fuel on the fire when she was asked about the Brits winning virtually everything in Rio and replied: ‘I don’t want to accuse anyone of anything but it is all very questionable.’
British cycling’s head coach has hit back at Britain’s critics for kicking up a fuss about the level of progress his teach achieved.
Australian cycling star Anna Meares claimed earlier this week that she was ‘scratching her head’ at Britain’s massive Olympic gold medal haul on the track in Rio
Meares posted a message on Twitter on Wednesday claiming that she had never insinuated that British cyclists were ‘cheating or doing anything suspicious’ at the Olympics
Meares won a gold and silver at the 2015 World Championships, but was left in tears after losing in the quarter-finals of the women’s Olympic sprint event in Rio (above)
Iain Dyer said Team GB’s rivals should take a good hard look at their own Olympic performances before they start questioning the results.
‘It’s a shame. I can only point to the fact you can look at athletes here who are simply not at their best, not at their best of the last four years, not at their best this year,’ Dyer told the Guardian.
‘If you look at some of the times that have been done here (in Rio), some of the teams simply haven’t shown up. That’s the bottom line. Some of the people here are not even performing at the level of the World Championships.’
The boss of TeamGB’s cycling squad is actually an Australian, with Shane Sutton taking over from Dave Brailsford as technical director in 2014.
British cycling’s golden couple Laura Trott and Jason Kenny won five Olympic titles between them at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games
Owain Doull, Edward Clancy, Steven Burke and Bradley Wiggins show off their gold medals for the Olympic men’s team pursuit event in Rio
And he reckons British cycling, which has received a whopping £30m (AUS$50m) in government funding over the past four years compared to around AUS$34m for the Australian team, have perfected the art of peaking at the right time for the Olympics.
‘One of things we have always been notorious for is the good ‘periodisation’, the work that we do between the worlds and the Games,’ Sutton told the Daily Telegraph earlier this year.
‘And believe me, we are going through every nook and cranny to try to make those Games as successful as they can be.’