Clancy hoping for harmonious pursuit of team gold with Wiggins

GET READY FOR RIO: Yorkshireman Ed Clancy will concentrate on winning the team pursuit gold at the next Olympics but hopes that his friend, Sir Bradley Wiggins, can commit to a longer term training programme. Picture: Malcolm Billingham
GET READY FOR RIO: Yorkshireman Ed Clancy will concentrate on winning the team pursuit gold at the next Olympics but hopes that his friend, Sir Bradley Wiggins, can commit to a longer term training programme. Picture: Malcolm Billingham
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Ed Clancy will ride for only one gold medal at the next Olympics and has asked Sir Bradley Wiggins to honour the harmony of the team pursuit squad.

Changes to the format of the multi-discipline omnium that favour endurance riders means Clancy is unlikely to try to add to the bronze medal he won at London at the next Games in Rio in two years.

Instead, the Yorkshireman will place all his focus on the team pursuit, a disciplinein which he won Olympic gold at each of the last two Games.

The first of those in Beijing was alongside Wiggins, who has said he plans to return to the track in time for Rio for his Olympic swansong.

The former Tour de France winner helped Clancy and the English team win a silver at this summer’s Commonwealth Games, just three weeks after returning to the team.

But he will be absent from this weekend’s Track World Cup meet in London as he prepares to tick off some of the road races he has yet to win in early 2015.

Clancy has a good relationship with Wiggins and knows he can switch between track and road at short notice.

But for the good of the squad’s preparation for the next Olympics, Clancy hopes Wiggins can commit to a longer-term training programme.

“I haven’t seen Brad since the Commonwealth Games, but I’m not that concerned,” said Barnsley-born Clancy.

“He only had three weeks to prepare for Glasgow and he handled it better than anyone.

“For the endurance-based guys, that doesn’t seem to do them any harm. Brad is best when he’s fit and strong from the road.

“As long as he has the power and the strength to deal with the starts he’s fine.

“He could be parachuted in with two months to go and be fine.

“But I hope he doesn’t do that. For the sake of team-building and team morale I hope he joins up with us at least from this stage next year.”

Huddersfield-raised Clancy rides in the team pursuit in London today with his days in the omnium seemingly numbered after the UCI changed the format of the six-race event.

The omnium will now end in a points race with the rider accumulating the highest number of points declared the winner.

Previously, the rider with the lowest tally won the event. That suited Clancy for whom the points race was always a case of damage limitation, with the brunt of his good work coming in the time trial, individual pursuit and flying lap.

The changes are akin to those in Formula 1, where double points were on offer in the final race, and they have all but ended the interest of the 2010 world omnium champion.

“It’s not really an event for me any more and it’s unlikely I’m going to put much time into the omnium for the Olympics,” said Clancy, who has five world titles to his name.

“I always thought I could win the old-style omnium, but now they want it to be an endurance road race event and that doesn’t suit me at all.

“I’ve no interest in having an outside chance at winning a medal. I’d rather be in it to win it.

“So it’s team pursuit all the way for me and I don’t think that will ever change. It’s always been my event and it will be just the one for me in Rio.

“I’ll always cherish that Olympic bronze in the omnium – but it just seems every time I did something great in that event, they changed the rules and made it more difficult for me.”

Clancy has declared himself fit and healthy for the London World Cup meet after overcoming the illness picked up after returning from the European Championships in Guadeloupe, when yet another continental team pursuit title saved an otherwise disappointing year.

“The worlds was the only really shocking result,” said Clancy, who finished a lowly eighth with the British squad back in February.

“Then the silver at the Commonwealth Games got a lot of negative press, but that was a good result.

“We’d had minimal preparation and to still pull out a silver medal, when the Aussies really put a lot of emphasis on the Commonwealths, was a real positive.

“And the Euros was another gold. We’ve never lost a European championship team pursuit, which gets overlooked, even by us. We’re just expected to turn up, race and win the gold.

“We never stop to think how big an achievement that is in itself.

“So it’s not been a great year, but I’d rather that be this year than 2016.”