The quest for a record-breaking fourth Olympic gold medal in the team pursuit next summer intensifies for Ed Clancy in Glasgow this weekend.
The 34-year-old Yorkshireman – an Olympic champion in the four-man event in Beijing, London and Rio – leads a young team building towards Tokyo next summer in the latest stage of the winter World Cup series.
As is customary for the Great Britain Cycling team, their performances in the major meets in the fallow seasons outside Olympic year have bubbled under the surface rather than struck fear into their rivals.
But if they are to peak at the right time as they have done in each of the three previous Olympics, they have some catching up to do.
Australia are the team to beat, having defeated Clancy’s GB team of Wakefield’s Ollie Wood, Ethan Hayter and Kian Emadi at the world championships in Poland in February.
This weekend, Clancy, Hayter and Wood will be joined by another Yorkshireman in Charlie Tanfield, of Great Ayton, the same quartet that finished third in the European Championships in Apeldoorn last month with a time faster than the gold-medal winning mark from Rio.
Clancy said: “Having just done a really good performance at the Euros, we’re mindful we’ve just got to keep doing everything we can from a physical point of view to be the best we can every time we’re on a bike.
“We’re more than aware that we’re not favourites to get gold in Tokyo at the moment. We haven’t beaten the Australian team since Rio – we won the world championships in 2018, but Australia weren’t there.
“From our point of view, we’re chasing, we’re behind, we’re No 2 at the moment.”
“We’ve got to keep on it because the rest of the world ain’t slowing down.”
Great Britain’s bid will be boosted by the marginal technological gains that are typical of the revolutionary squad.
Last week, they launched a radical new bike for the 2020 Olympics, which made a fleeting appearance in the opening World Cup meet in Minsk.
With its distinctive seat stays and front forks, the bike caused a stir in the velodrome as rival teams got their first glimpse.
Designers said they wanted the bike to get inside the heads of opponents.
Clancy, who is yet to ride it at full speed, said: “It’s another marginal gain which will add up with everything else.
“It looks futuristic, it’s pretty wild and it’s exciting. It’ll be fast, don’t get me wrong, but the bike on its own isn’t going to be a game-changer.”
The heats of the team pursuit are this morning with the final taking place from 7pm.