Great Britain’s track cycling team heads to Munich, much changed since Tokyo

Great Britain’s track cycling team heads to Munich for the European Championships barely recognizable from the squad that topped the medal table at the Tokyo Olympics 12 months ago.

Only five of the 18 riders who traveled to Germany competed at the Izu velodrome, while three of the section’s four head coaches have changed in the past year and the remaining – women’s endurance coach Monica Greenwood – will be at her last event before stepping down .

Fresh faces in the middle of an Olympic cycle are not uncommon, and several big names missing here – Dame Laura Kenny, Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker and Ryan Owens among them – are expected back. But the overhaul in the coaching ranks points to bigger changes.

Sir Jason Kenny’s appointment as men’s sprint coach made the most headlines, while Australia’s four-time world champion Kaarle McCulloch has taken over the women’s sprint team and Monica’s husband Ben Greenwood has replaced Iain Dyer as men’s endurance coach. Monica’s replacement has not yet been named.

“It’s been busy!” performance director Stephen Park said of the turnover. “Like with athletes, there are certain times where you kind of have a change of guard.

“There are some people in our team that we may have felt were getting long in the tooth, maybe they have a way of working that we don’t necessarily think is appropriate with the direction of the culture that we want. Likewise … there are others who have taken other opportunities to move on.”

Speaking to riders at the Commonwealth Games, it was clear that many appreciated hearing fresh voices, although the women’s endurance squad will be sad to lose Monica Greenwood, who was only appointed last year but is already stepping down as she continues to drive on the road itself.

Tissot UCI Track Nations Cup 2022 - Day One - Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome

Sir Jason Kenny retired from competing to switch to coaching earlier this year (Jane Barlow/PA)

The new coaching staff is inexperienced. Ben Greenwood spent three years working in British Cycling’s academy before stepping down in March, but both Kenny and McCulloch are in their first coaching roles since retirement.

With qualification for the Paris Olympics starting next year, they must hit the ground running.

“Obviously they don’t have the years of coaching knowledge and coaching experience that some of our outgoing coaches have,” Park added. “We have work to do to support them as we go through that program, but I think the spirit and atmosphere in the camp was fantastic.”

Given the changes, Park warned Britain must “manage our expectations accordingly” ahead of Paris, although the Scot said much the same before watching his team dominate across all disciplines in Tokyo.

As the track undergoes an overhaul, the BMX freestyle squad is led by Olympic medalists Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks, and mountain bike champion Tom Pidcock aims for European glory ahead of his main goal of the world championships at the end of the month.

Tokyo Olympics 2020 - day three

Tom Pidcock will target further glory on the mountain bike (Jasper Jacobs/PA)

Munich will be the second time the European Championships in several sports have come together as one event, four years after the 2018 Games hosted jointly by Berlin and Glasgow.

Keely Hodgkinson and Jake Wightman aim to add to recent world and Commonwealth success, while Birmingham stars such as gymnasts Jake Jarman and Joe Fraser are back for more when they change into Great Britain gear just days after the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony.

Athletics, cycling, triathlon, artistic gymnastics and rowing all return from the 2018 edition, while beach volleyball, canoe sprints, sport climbing and table tennis have been added to the programme. Swimming and diving instead host their own championships while golf will not return.

Between Thursday and the end of competition on August 21, around 4,700 athletes from 50 nations will compete for 177 titles across the nine sports in what organizers say is the biggest multi-sport event Germany has hosted since the 1972 Munich Olympics.

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