Olympic Rivals Question Britain’s Mystery Cycling Advantage


(AFP) – Germany’s Olympic sprint gold winner Kristina Vogel has complained that her dominant British rivals have an unfair advantage though she is not sure what it is.

Several riders in Rio have grumbled about Britain’s cycling hegemony for the past three Olympics.

Britain has won 20 of the 30 golds disputed going back to Beijing 2008. Although they won only six this time — one less than the previous two Games — Britain only had entrants in nine of the 10 events as the women’s sprint team didn’t qualify.

Just to highlight the level of Britain’s control, in the three events they did not win, they took silver.

Yet at the world championships between each Olympics, Britain never enjoys anything like the same dominance, leading some, such as Vogel, to ask questions.

“Of course I’m not saying that they took drugs or had an engine in the bikes,” said the 25-year-old, who won the team sprint gold in London.

“It’s just that it seems that they don’t train for three years, and then they start and at every Olympic Games they kill every nation!

“I just want to know what they’re riding and I’m not!”

British sprint star Jason Kenny, who won his sixth Olympic gold on Tuesday in the keirin, admitted that he feels “frustrated” at the single-minded Games focus.

His fiancee Laura Trott won the omnium to earn her fourth Games gold, making her Britain’s most successful female Olympian, while Kenny joined former track sprint king Chris Hoy as the number one of all time. Trott said the Brits simply do not have the same equipment outside of the Olympics.

“You come back and you go to the world championships, and you don’t have the same Olympic equipment, the same skin-suits, the same wheels,” she moaned.

“You realise how everything was good, the form you had, during the Olympics.”

Trott has twice won the omnium world title, each time in an Olympic year before going on to win Games gold as well.

But between 2012 and 2016, she finished second at the world championships every time — to riders she blitzed in Rio.

“If you can win the worlds with basic equipment, you can come here and do what Britain has done today and know the week we’ve had,” she added.

– ‘Our fault’ –

Vogel, who beat Britain’s Becky James into silver in the sprint, suggested other countries should follow Britain’s lead.

“That’s what they’re working for, just working for the Olympics. Maybe that’s our fault, or our nations’ fault,” she said.

“But we want to compete well between these four years.”

British coach Iain Dyer insisted it was a fallacy to suggest his team is not successful at the worlds.

They topped the medals table at the worlds in 2013 and 2016, finished fourth in 2014 and only 2015 was a real blip — a 10th place finish without a single gold medal. There are twice as many titles up for grabs than the Olympics at world championships.

“We set ourselves up to be successful every four years. If you are to peak every four years, it needs to be a bloody good peak, otherwise it’s just a pimple,” said Dyer.

He said some nations at the Olympics are only on a par with World Cup or World Championship performances “whereas we’ve been able to make that step because this is the event we’re focused on the most.

“But I would like to add that in these four years we’ve won 12 world titles.”

That puts Britain second only to Germany with 13 over the same period and one ahead of France and Australia.

Yet when it comes to the last three Games put together, Germany have managed two gold, Australia one and France none, compared to Britain’s 20.