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Michael Bailey , London Olympics correspondent
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Norwich cyclist Emma Pooley moved a step closer to London Olympic qualification by being included on Team GB’s shortlist for this summer’s Games.
With 43 days to go until the opening ceremony in Stratford, the 29-year-old 2011 world time trial champion was named as one of six competitors in the road cycling squad – a list that will be whittled down to four next week.
Pooley, a former Norwich High School for Girls pupil, took time trial silver at the Beijing Games and a place in the road race squad would see her compete in the road race and time trial in London.
Yesterday’s announcement saw 18 cyclists officially selected to represent Team GB at the Games, while the men’s eight-strong road squad shortlist was also revealed – set to be knocked down to five come Games time.
“We have selected what I believe to be an excellent team going into an Olympic Games and we have a good mix of experienced Olympians alongside young riders who are making their Olympic debut,” said Team GB cycling team leader and British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford.
“We still have some decisions to make, for example the road teams will be refined in due course and who will ride what event on the track will be determined nearer the time.
“Overall though, the GB Cycling Team has had a strong season across all the disciplines and we are ready to step up again at the Olympics.”
Those decisions may well be tougher for the men’s squad, with the likes of Bradley Wiggins, David Millar and Mark Cavendish set to be in Tour de France action just weeks before the start of the Olympics.
“There’s a strength in depth that we always talk about and actually this team’s got a strength in breadth,” added Brailsford. “It is, across all disciplines, very, very competitive for the podium. There’s a great mix, young and old.
“You’ve got the experience of the likes of Vicky, Chris and Bradley, who have been to several Games now, and then you’ve got the exuberance of the Laura Trotts, Dani Kings, Jess Varnishes, all bursting through on to the scene.”
The Team GB track cycling squads were also finalised yesterday, with Victoria Pendleton competing in her last Games in the sprint group alongside Chris Hoy, Philip Hindes, Jason Kenny and Jessica Varnish.
Geraint Thomas has forgone his place in this year’s Tour to concentrate on his quest for Olympic gold, and he takes his place in the endurance squad alongside Steven Burke, Edward Clancy, Wendy Houvenaghel, Peter Kennaugh, Danielle King, Joanna Rowsell, Andrew Tennant and Laura Trott.
The BMX duo of Liam Phillips and Shanaze Reade, plus cross-country mountain biking competitors Liam Killeen and Annie Last, completed Team GB’s latest official recruits.
Cycling has proven fruitful for Team GB in recent years, although changes to the Olympic programme mean only one competitor from each country in each event may stem the flow of medals this summer compared to the likes of Beijing.
Team GB’s number has now reached 233 across all disciplines and chef de mission Andy Hunt added: “Dominating the medal table at Beijing 2008 was a fantastic, unprecedented achievement.
“While the changes to the Olympic Programme will make that difficult to replicate, I am fully confident that with the support of the home crowd behind them, our cyclists will once again excite the crowd and make the nation proud with their inspirational performances in London this summer.”
• Team GB road squad shortlists – Men (five to be selected): Mark Cavendish, Steve Cummings, Chris Froome, Jeremy Hunt, David Millar, Ian Stannard, Ben Swift, Bradley Wiggins; Women (four to be selected): Lizzie Armitstead, Nicole Cooke, Katie Colclough, Sharon Laws, Lucy Martin, Emma Pooley.