Alex Simmons/RST said:
How can actual performances and medal count not be truely indicative of the situation?
The first Worlds after an Olympic year have historically been easier pickings. It isn't just Britain, but a lot of the teams didn't send their A-squad. This is particularly true in the men's endurance events which tend to miss the top athletes for the first 2 years in an Olympic cycle as they concentrate on their road careers.
Alex Simmons/RST said:
I doubt it. Did they have riders in better form available?
Depends upon what you mean by available. If you mean will be available come the next Olympic Games then we were missing Romero, Wiggins and Thomas. You could also argue that Hoy's crash in Copenhagen only came because he was experimenting with an alternative Kierin strategy, something he wouldn't do in 2011 and 2012. That's 4 riders who would all have increased Britain's medal tally.
Alex Simmons/RST said:
Champs don't let the foot off the throat. It was a World Championship after all.
Couldn't disagree more. Champions are never scared to fail; it is the only way that they can get better. Team management in particular has to be brave enough to try out younger talent, otherwise they end up with an old team that they have to completely rebuild from scratch every 10 years or so.
Yes, this was a World Championships but at what other event could Britain genuinely experiment? The World Cup is a joke of a tournament with far too weak an entry list to give the new riders a real test, but that is pretty much the only other international level track tournament. Unfortunately, that means that track world championships need to be sacrificed for the longer picture and the first one in the Olympic cycle is clearly the ideal one to go for.
As someone in the UK press has said, what would Britain have learned had they ridden another sub-3'55 ride with Clancy, Wiggins, Thomas and Burke? The only untested rider in that quartet was Burke and we already know quite a lot about him. Instead, we found that with Clancy, Burke, Kennaugh and Bellis we can ride within a couple of seconds of the fastest non-British team (the Danes did pretty much send an A-squad for this event). That knowledge and the data that we get from it will make us much deeper in the event and will put us in a stronger position for 2012.
Without Romero, we've discovered so much about Armitstead in the team pursuit. She would not have been in that event had Romero not been taking a year out.
British Cycling's funding is not based upon World Championship medals. It is only based upon Olympic medals. Therefore, Brailsford's track job is only about 2012. 2009 needs to be about 2012, not 2009.
I also think that the doom and gloom about our performance is nonsense:
1. We dominated 2007 and 2008 by getting 11 medals. We still got 9 here, only our gold medal count took a hit.
2. We have found one of the most talented female track bunch riders in the world in Armitstead. She has an amazing tactical nous for a 20-year old. In one winter season she has gone from prospect to strong 2012 medallist candidate.
3. I can't believe the nonsense that is being written about Pendleton. That was her first ever 500m TT Worlds medal and was only 0.1 sec outside her PB and British national record. Everyone in the sport knows that this is not her best event as she isn't physically big enough to have the required starting effort. And yet the British media have said that it was a disappointing performance. I'd love to know on what grounds, considering it wasn't an event in Beijing. And her individual sprint will have made her coaches so proud. She has this image of being cute and cuddly, but in the semi and the final she should a steely determination that she's never really had to show before.
4. Cavendish and Kennaugh look better together in the madison than any British pairing I've seen in a long time.
There was only 1 disappointment for me and one warning:
1. Houvenaghel is not a winner. She has now lost ever single Worlds medal ride off race she has ever ridden, despite being the faster of the two qualifiers in many of them. She should have been World Champion this year, the fact she isn't, I think, is symptom of a mental block. That said, if her role is now simply to keep Romero honest and be a great number 2 in the team pursuit, that's no bad place.
2. The Aussies have clearly stepped up the women's team sprint. Britain's performances actually compare very favourably with previous years, but Oz have clearly raised the bar. However, Reade only spent 4 weeks training for this event, so we shouldn't be panicking that the bar has been raised to a level we can't meet. Pendleton is still the fastest in the world over the 2nd lap. How concerned we are will depend upon this becoming an Olympic event or not, though.