Interesting article about the London track and GB cycling.
Okay, so let's say that GB dominance is the result of a large number of incremental improvements rather than a narrower breakthrough or PEDs. My question becomes "How can their pursuit of perfection be -that- much superior to other well funded national teams?" Is the ability to drive a program of that caliber rare enough to explain it? Do they have dramatically greater resources? I think the US team has some 'splainin' to do!
Home court advantage. I can't remember an Olympic games where the host countries performance didn't improve over previous years.
AZT, I think continuity counts for a lot. The core of the management and coaching squad have been together for many years, and the investment has been made into a set-up that was well-established and worked. Having a top-quality team in it for the long haul must make a big difference, especially when you're as driven as these guys. There are countless tales of them never ever being satisfied, insisting that everyone constantly comes up with ideas for improvement, etc. etc.
And once you have established that culture, that momentum, success breeds success as eveyone has to live up to the standards of those around them. One of the most telling quotes in the Pendleton documentary, for me, was her saying she didn't really feel she belonged until she won her first world title. A world championship was the minimum entry qualification to "the club". A bit like being a painter in Florence when Michaelangelo, Da Vinci and Raphael were setting the standard. Anything much short of perfection simply wouldn't do.
AzTR, USA Cycling has some corporate sponsorship but nothing like the resources that Sky TV provides the British team. I regularly hear people complain how most of our license fees go to the national team instead of local races. I'm not one of them. However, license fees only go so far when it comes to cultivating a national team.
US elite track racers are spread all over the US and internationally. Sarah Hammer trains in Mallorca Spain. Without a central command and control with resources to support racers, it is difficult to get the focus and track time needed to be competitive internationally as a team.
For example, the woman from Australia that trained with my wife the other day spends 8 hours per session at the Adelaide indoor track in South Australia. She lives 10 minutes by bicycle from the track. In 8 hours, she does 1:45 minutes of efforts. She said is was so much more fun to show up at our track and have a less structured session. She is a track monster and I will not be surprised to see her in the world championships or the 2016 olympics.
Here is a link to the facility http://www.recsport.sa.gov.au/whats-...per-drome.html In the USA, we have one indoor 250 meter velodrome.
Assuming there's an appreciable equivalent elevation difference, I have always thought that it would make sense to build an indoor velodrome with an air-support roof in 6,000' Flagstaff, AZ. That way, you'd get the benefits of living and sleeping at altitude, but you'd be training in a slightly higher air pressure, closer to sea level. But I'm not sure how much effect on indoor atmosphere holding up a roof would have.
Lottery smottery. Look out GB, you may see some competition in 2016!
Founded by a local racer and his Elite USA Track Omnium Champion fiance, the Hellyer Women's Team Pursuit Program was created with the short term goal of putting womens' team pursuit teams on the podium for the Elite USA Nationals Track Championships held at the Velo Sports Center in Carson, CA in September 2012. The longer term goal is the 2016 Olympics in Rio. We started with 48 women and this weekend, 5 teams (15 women) made the trip from NorCal to SoCal to practice and race team pursuit on the 250 track at the Velo Sports Center. I am helping out with photography and sponsorships as well as fund raising. Each racer paid their own way to go 400 miles south and get 6 hours of focused track time. My wife is on a team and participated.
For most of the women, this was their first time on the 250 track with 45 degree banking. They did really well on the first day getting used to the track and doing exchanges. Day 2 was practice 3k team pursuits. Before the 3k pursuits, the women did a flying kilo. My wife is teamed up with two sprinters / endurance women a Cat 1 and Cat 2 who also do team sprint together. They lit up the opening two laps and the team averaged 17.6 second laps or 31.5 mph. MEA had the third lap of the four lap effort and has not stopped talking about this since 9:30AM yesterday. Sometimes it is better to be a smaller fish in a bigger deeper pond. She is totally stoked. They looked fantastic on the track and the exchanges were good. They did a 3k team pursuit about 20 minutes after the kilo and then another 3K team pursuit 20 minutes after that.
I know the west coast distributor for Fast Forward Wheels and he and another guy showed up on Sunday with 9 sets of demo wheels. They helped with the wheel exchange and other stuff as needed. I wanted this event to be special so the women feel like no one has anything better. IMO, the Fast Forward Wheels are competitive to the Mavics that GB and other teams had in the Olympics. They are lenticular in design and very stiff with ceramic bearings. Plus they just look faster. Part of being the best is having the best support and stuff. FF is going to sponsor us and want to be a part of the program. They were amazed that we could get 48 women to show up for team pursuit let alone 15 travel to Carson for practice. And I took a lot of video that I posted that evening so racers could see how they looked. Feedback and recommendations are being prepared based upon results and video. It was all good. Even when they missed exchanges or gaps formed, the women buried themselves and held position.
This was an amazing start and the results were excellent.
Setting up... The FF guys getting bikes ready.
MEA finishing her 3rd lap of the kilo.
Here is our number one team lead by our 2011 omnium champ.
Here is the group with our Fast Forward Wheels after two days of training and racing.
Here is a video I shot with my DSLR of the 2nd set of 3k team pursuits. The women had about 20 minutes rest between the first and second pursuits. We tried to get as much track time in as possible so rest was not optimized. You will hear lap times in the video being called out. For reference, 20 second laps are 28 mph and 17.5 are 31.5 mph. Team GB did 16 to 16.5 second laps for their 3K. Splits are called as 9,9 which is 19.9 and 0,1 is 20.1. All the pursuits in the video are really fast - there are no slow times. My wife said, she felt bad when they turned a 20.1 second lap. It is all relative to the best in the world. For comparison purposes, the first time I did a 3K team pursuit at VSC with four 60+ men on a team, we averaged 20.2 seconds and thought we were rockstars. With 3 racers, it is much harder.
Hermes, really nice report! Next time you do something like this, please let me know. I might be able to lend some photographic support. :)
Thanks Cleave. I will definitely let you know next time.
Great stuff, Hermes. Now hook us up with a BFFFFF (BikeForumFriendsForeverFastForward) discount? ;)
You know I like mine and the women that tried them out at the sessions loved them.
Nice reading. Been in the bunker a bit getting ready for Natz. Thinking about my approach to track in the future.
Here is a pic from Shape Magazine of Ashton Eaton 2012 Olympic Decathlon Champion. This is my new goal - get in that kind of shape.
MEA and I are on vacation in Newport Beach, CA and MEA is racing at Elite Track Nationals next week in the 3k pursuit and 3k team pursuit. We will be training at the Velo Sports Center and doing some SoCal road rides as well.
Our women's team pursuit program is an unequivocal success. On Saturday, we promoted a track race to raise money for the program and allow the women to race against each other. Our top team consisting of last year's elite national omnium champion and two other women smashed Hellyer's women's team pursuit record by 10 seconds. On their second race of the evening, they broke 3:50 which is a smoking time on the outdoor concrete track corresponding to lap speeds of 30 mph and puts them clearly in contention for the national podium. They will go much faster on the indoor wooden track. We had another team below 4 minutes. And of course, we have more time before nationals to tune up the teams.
Look forward to seeing you Saturday, and watching MEA race. I will be at Roger's session probably both Tue and Thu (gearing up for upgrade omniums on Sunday), so maybe see you during the week as well.
Sounds like you two are having a blast, Hermes.
Good to see you guys at VSC. MEA is in great form; I'm sure she will rock it next week.
Good luck at the upgrade races over the weekend.
I am going to try to get to the VSC tonight even though it means missing my beloved NY Giants on TV tonight. I haven't ridden since Sunday for various reasons and I feel like I need to get in a workout for my psyche if nothing else.
See you there this evening. We will probably do the first part of Roger's 7PM session.