Hard work starts now for Clancy in bid to peak for Rio

Barnsley-born Ed Clancy.
Barnsley-born Ed Clancy.
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The road to Rio starts in the sporting backwaters of the Caribbean today for one of Yorkshire’s most decorated Olympians.

Ed Clancy, the double Olympic champion, begins his quest for a third gold medal in the team pursuit at the European Track Cycling Championships in Guadeloupe.

The island is part of the French territories, hence their staging of the fifth annual European championships.

This unique environment – with a concrete-based, 333m round track as opposed to 250m – is where the first ranking points for the 2016 Olympics in Rio will be collected.

There are still 22 months to go until the start of the 31st Olympiad in Rio on August 5, 2016, but it shows how far in advance cyclists, in particular, have to prepare.

Barnsley-born Clancy, 29, is the senior member of a five-man British squad for the four-man team pursuit, that also includes Andy Tennant, Owain Doull, Jon Dibben and Mark Christian.

Sir Bradley Wiggins is absent but his name looms over the squad as it is as part of that quartet that the former Tour de France winner and seven-time Olympic medallist hopes to bring down the curtain on his glorious career in the Rio velodrome.

Before they can even get to that stage, the British team have some ground to make up.

Never the strongest in non-Olympic years – as Clancy often admits – they have endured tougher times since London than in previous Olympic cycles.

An England team including Wiggins and Clancy might have won silver at the Commonwealth Games, but that result felt like defeat given the gap to the champions Australia.

At the world championships in February a team led by Clancy and involving Doull, Dibben and Sam Harrison, finished eighth – their lowest ever position – behind five European nations.

Kicking their Rio campaign off will be difficult for all the teams in Guadeloupe as the 333m track is 83m longer than the 250m circuits nations train on regularly.

Teams will do 12 laps instead of 16 in the four-kilometre race. The concrete surface will give the track championships a road feel, while the velodrome has no roof and the island is currently in the midst of tropical storm season.

Clancy will only ride the team pursuit this week, the qualifying for which is today.

He is not riding the omnium, an event that has been changed for the Rio Games with more emphasis placed on the points race, an event that does not suit Clancy, the bronze medallist in the event at London 2012.