Big names heading to Manchester in search of gold

Entries have now closed revealing the team nominations for the forthcoming UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester 26-30th March 2008.

A total of 300 riders comprising 207 men and 93 women from 37 nations are on the list for 18 events during the 5-day championships.

One of the biggest battles for medals will be in the men’s team sprint. Teams from France, Netherlands, Great Britain, Germany and Australia will all fancy their chances in the three-man race which will be won by thousandths of a second over three explosive laps of the track. Great Britain has revealed the early nominations as Jamie Staff, Ross Edgar and Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny and Matt Crampton but the final team won’t be revealed until next Tuesday after months of speculation about selection. The Dutch team is fixed with Theo Bos, Tim Veldt and Teun Mulder but the Australians are likely to choose three out of their nominations Ryan Bayley, Mark French, Ben Kersten and Daniel Ellis. The French team has already been announced with Arnaud Tournant recruited as a reserve but the legendary sprinter will ride the Keirin event pitched against Britain’s Chris Hoy. Hoy had a winning streak of 22 consecutive wins in the Keirin over the past year. Bos and Mulder are also listed to ride in the sprint competition.

Men’s World team pursuit champions Great Britain have ridden close to the four-minute mark this season for the 4,000 metre event with Bradley Wiggins nominated alongside Ed Clancy, Steve Cummings, Gerraint Thomas, Steven Burke and Paul Manning for the four man race. Current World record holders Australia have named a strong six man squad for the team pursuit of Brad McGee, Luke Roberts, Graeme Brown, Brett Lancaster, Jack Bobridge and Mark Jamieson.

Victoria Pendleton and Shanaze Reade are listed to defend their World title in the women’s team sprint with talented youngster Anna Blyth as third nominee. Pendleton is also included on the women’s sprint and Keirin lists but looks likely to give the 500 time trial a miss with Reade and Blyth nominated for the two lap race.

The British women’s team pursuiters will debut at the championships after training behind closed doors in Manchester with Rebecca Romero, Jo Rowsell, Wendy Houvenaghel and Liz Armitstead also on the list with final selection next Tuesday. The British team face fierce challenges from the German, Russian and Ukrainian teams. The Dutch team debuted in second place in Copenhagen last month behind the improving German winners and both teams are expected to raise their game in the challenge for medals in Manchester. Romero will be out to improve on the silver medal she won in Palma last year in the individual pursuit when the former world rowing champion was beaten by American Sarah Hammer in the final.

The field for the men’s Kilo looks very strong despite its omission from the Olympic Games this year. The event is always a crowd favourite and they won’t be disappointed with names like Francois Pervis, Didier Henriette (France), Ben Kersten, Scott Sunderland (Australia), Theo Bos, Teun Mulder.

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