Clancy determined to lay down marker to Australians

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Ed Clancy is relishing the prospect of a pre-Olympic head-to-head with Britain’s great rivals from Australia at the London Velodrome this weekend.

Yorkshireman Clancy, 26, was part of the team pursuit squad that won gold at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

But as the track fraternity gather in London this weekend for the test event and Track World Cup meet at the newly-opened Olympic Velodrome, it is Australia – who have fought with Britain since Sydney 2000 in the team pursuit – who have become the dominant force.

Australia have won the last two world titles, forcing Britain to settle for silver and bronze, and send their strongest team – Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, Luke Durbridge and Michael Hepburn – to London.

Yet Clancy, widely regarded as one of the best team pursuit riders in the business, believes he, Steven Burke, Pete Kennaugh and his fellow Beijing gold medallist Geraint Thomas will prove more than a match for the favourites.

Clancy, whose team pursuit squad qualified for Sunday’s final yesterday, said: “They have sent their A-Team and the chances are that they are going to mean business.

“It will either be to send a message out by beating us on home turf or just to check out what it’s like over here. I don’t know what their training has been like and they might not be on 100 per cent form.

“Obviously it would be nice to win but the most important thing is that we do a good time, get a bit of confidence from that, go quicker at the Worlds then head to the Olympics.

“We have to go flat out to be competitive and there will not be any holding back.

“We won the European title by a decent margin (in October) but were deflated by the time we did so we want a solid ride and to be in the fight. Whatever happens here there will be more to come.”

Rotherham’s Ben Swift, who is hoping to force his way into the team pursuit squad in time for London, begins his campaign in the omnium today.

European champion Matt Crampton is battling Sir Chris Hoy for a place on Great Britain’s Olympic team.

Crampton has spent time racing in Japan since 2009, following in the footsteps of Olympic champion Hoy, who also once honed his skills at the famous keirin school in Shuzenji, Shizuoka.

With only one keirin place at London 2012 on offer, the stakes could hardly be higher.

Crampton said: “I think I’ve got the tools to beat him. On my day, I should be there.”

n Sheffield’s Adam Blythe enjoyed his best finish of the Tour of Oman yesterday when he came home in 13th. The 22-year-old BMC rider, who finished 10th in last week’s Tour of Qatar, is 83rd on the general classification.