Team GB cyclists target winning ‘in the right way’ at Tokyo Olympics

  • British Cyling has ‘moved on’ after Richard Freeman case
  • Laura and Jason Kenny spearhead 26-strong squad

The British Cycling performance director, Stephen Park, has promised his riders will win “in the right way” at the Tokyo Olympics in the wake of the devastating guilty verdict against the former team doctor Richard Freeman this year.

Park also vowed that British Cycling had moved on from the old regime, under which Freeman was found to have purchased banned testosterone knowing it was to dope an unnamed rider, as he named a 26-strong squad for Tokyo.

“Personally, I think it is really important to prove we have moved on,” said Park, who took over British Cycling in 2017. “I am wholly committed to us winning in the right way. We have a responsibility to lead the sport, we have a responsibility to do that with integrity.

“We are going into battle for the British public. We want them to be proud of what we do and about how we do that.”

Team GB can count on six previous gold medallists in Tokyo, including Geraint Thomas, Ed Clancy, Jason Kenny, Laura Kenny, Elinor Barker and Katie Archibald. Park warned, however, that fewer medals were on the cards because its tech advantage over its rivals had shrunk.

Starting with the 2008 Games in Beijing, British track cyclists have benefitted from special skin suits with drag-resistance ridges that create a “turbulence effect” which reduces the amount of wind resistance acting on the body. Sources have previously told the Guardian they give a 5%-10% performance advantage over rival countries.

Such tech played a vital part in helping Britain top the medal table in Beijing, London and Rio. However Park admitted that eight medals in Tokyo – compared to 12 in Rio – was now more realistic. “The tech margins we have had in the past will be somewhat eroded,” he said. “As the years go on, there are a number of people that have worked with our team who are now working elsewhere, and some of that information leaks out.

“That said, I am absolutely confident that the kit package will be as good if not better than any other nations. We have still spent a huge amount of time, effort and money ensuring we are competitive.”

The team will be headed by Laura Kenny, who confirmed she will compete in three events, the omnium, team pursuit and madison, as she seeks to become Team GB’s most successful Olympian.

Kenny, who already has four gold medals to her name, said the year’s delay due to the pandemic had given her more time to prepare after injuring her shoulder. “I would never have wished this whole pandemic on the world,” he said. “But, for me, as an athlete, definitely, having this extra year has helped me do all three events.”

Her husband Jason, who could also surpass Chris Hoy’s Team GB record of six Olympic golds, said he was putting such thoughts at the back of his mind. “I don’t really think about records or anything, I just focus on the task and try and put in a performance worthy of being at the sharp end,” he said.

Twin brothers Adam and Simon Yates have been selected for the men’s road race, as have Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart, both of whom will also contest the men’s time trial event. In the women’s road race, the London 2012 silver medallist Lizzie Deignan will be joined by Anna Shackley, with Shackley also competing in the women’s time trial.

Park, who joined British Cycling in 2017 after Freeman had left, also stressed there had been wholesale change in the organisation which had previously faced accusations of having a “culture of fear”.

“We have done a huge amount of work in recent years around wider wellbeing,” he said. '“We have overhauled a lot of our medical practices. A big shift in how we approach mental health. We believe happy riders are fast riders.”


Sean Ingle

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Team GB to send biggest ever team to overseas Olympics at Tokyo 2020
Team GB’s chef de mission Mark England said he is hoping to send 380 athletes to Tokyo but the Paralympic team is set to decrease slightly in comparison to the Rio contingent

Paul MacInnes

18, Jul, 2019 @9:14 PM

Article image
Phil Neville eager to lead Team GB at rescheduled Tokyo Olympics
Phil Neville said he was eager to manage Team GB’s women’s football side at next year’s rescheduled Olympic Games

Suzanne Wrack

18, Sep, 2020 @9:17 PM

Article image
Team GB athletes will not face strict medal targets for Tokyo Olympics
Team GB’s athletes will not face strict medal targets for the Tokyo Olympics after it was revealed there is not have enough data to make accurate forecasts due to the Covid pandemic

Sean Ingle

10, Jun, 2021 @9:30 PM

Article image
Team GB to have male and female flag bearers at Tokyo Olympics
Team GB will have male and female flag bearers at the Tokyo Games for the first time in Olympic history

Sean Ingle

28, Apr, 2021 @9:30 PM

Article image
Hege Riise to be named Team GB football coach for Tokyo Olympics
The temporary England manager Hege Riise is to be named as head coach of Team GB this week for the summer Olympics in Tokyo

Suzanne Wrack

09, Mar, 2021 @11:47 AM

Article image
Team GB eclipsed by Denmark’s Olympic record in men’s team pursuit
Denmark broke the Olympic men’s team pursuit record set by Britain in 2016 as Britain’s men qualified in fourth while the women were second fastest behind Germany

Kieran Pender at the Izu Velodrome

02, Aug, 2021 @12:04 PM

Article image
Max Whitlock to lead young GB men’s gymnastics team at Tokyo Olympics
Max Whitlock will lead the Great Britain men’s gymnastics team in Tokyo as he aims to become the fourth man in history to successfully defend an Olympic pommel horse title

Tumaini Carayol

24, May, 2021 @3:05 PM

Article image
Team GB must deliver more than just medals at 2020 Olympics in Tokyo | Paul MacInnes
The British Olympic Association sets new goals for Team GB at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, including currying favour with the hosts and inspiring future generations at home

Paul MacInnes

23, Jul, 2019 @9:30 PM

Article image
100 days to Tokyo: how Team GB is shaping up for a unique Olympics
Virtual diving meets, farming fitness and training on trampolines have featured in a buildup where the pandemic meant necessity has been the mother of invention

Sean Ingle

14, Apr, 2021 @8:00 AM

Article image
Winning a few rounds at Tokyo Olympics is not enough – I want to go all the way | Caroline Dubois
Caroline Dubois is determined to go all the way at Tokyo 2020 as she chases a gold medal in the boxing

Caroline Dubois

26, Jul, 2021 @7:00 AM