2012: Interview with Wendy Houvenaghel

Exclusive:  VeloUK talks to Wendy Houvenaghel  about training on the Olympic track and then heading for Cali.Larry Hickmott writes … Great Britain Women’s Team Pursuiters prepare for World Cup

Flying out to Cali on Friday will be a small team from Great Britain which will include Olympic Silver medallist from Beijing, Wendy Houvenaghel , Paracycling multi Gold medallist Sarah Storey as well as the young World Champion for the Women’s Team Pursuit, Laura Trott.

They will be contesting the Women’s Team Pursuit in the World Cup in an effort to score more Olympic qualifying points.

The Olympic track as it appeared at the opening earlier this year when it was the turn of the Sprinters in the GB team to have a taste of what it was like.

After the mini training camp at the Velodrome, three of the five riders will head for Cali in Columbia for the second round of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup. Wendy explained that Cali will be her first World Cup for this season before adding that the big one will be the round in London which she is aiming for. The Cali round wasn’t part of her original schedule but in order to have a team on the start line in Cali, Wendy, along with Laura Trott and Sarah Storey, were asked to fly out and race for more Olympic qualifying points.

Wendy riding the Team Pursuit at the last World Cup with Sarah Storey and Joanna Rowsell.

“It’s all about making sure we have enough points and we don’t have undue pressure in other events so close to the Olympics” Wendy says. Asked how the form is ahead of this important challenge, Wendy replied, “we’ve all been on the track now for a few weeks and have had quite a heavy block of work so we’ll go out there and perform to the best of our ability. We’re all in good shape at the moment even though none of us have tapered for this event.”

Wendy, who was part of the World Championship winning team with Dani King and Laura Trott in 2011, says that while they are going for Olympic Qualification points, they are riding that well that a win in the event would be a great bonus.

“We’re all looking forward to competing in Cali” says Wendy. “It will be good to see where we are at after the block of training we have had where we’ve been training a little differently for the last five or six weeks. My last outing in a race was probably the middle of September so I’m very motivated and ready to race now. I’m very much looking forward to pinning a number on and going through that race process.”

“The racing is the really enjoyable part of the process and it’ll be good to see how prepared we are”

Because Wendy is now part of a team event rather than the individual one which she was competing in for Beijing, the professional dentist before she became a full time cyclist has had to move north to Manchester for the time being to take part in the track training that the team are now undertaking in a very intensive way at Manchester.

“I no longer have the luxury of training away from the Velodrome and coming up to Manchester for specific blocks of work. I find now I have to be on the track a lot more with my teammates and that is quite a refreshing and new situation for me. I’m enjoying that very much and so do need to be based in Manchester more than I have ever before.”

The Women’s Team Pursuit squad is made up of two young former sprinters turned endurance riders, Dani King and Laura Trott which no doubt helps in raising the speed of the trio on the track but also has the power and strength of riders like Wendy, Joanna Rowsell and Sarah Storey.

“All five riders bring different attributes to the Team Pursuit which is a very demanding one from a sprint and endurance perspective” says Wendy. “And I think it’s a very good mix that we have in the team.”

Asked if she feels more or less pressure now as five girls in GB compete for what will in all probability be four places for London 2012, Wendy replied “I feel that at the last Olympics, I had a very rushed two years, going from having no track cycling experience to competing for a podium place at the Olympics.”

“Having achieved that with the Silver medal has given me the motivation and fire to continue for  a Gold medal in London. When the IOC revealed the race schedule, that laid out what pathway I was to take to compete in London. Given our history and success in the event, I think we have very realistic goals so I’m very excited about the prospect of going to the London Olympics.”

Laura Trott unsure of her form for Cali
Like Wendy, riding Cali was not part of Laura Trott’s plans either and she’s unsure how her form is ahead of the World Cup event.

“After winning the European Championships I was not planning to race again before the London World Cup in February 2012, however that has now changed. As such, I’ve not been training specifically for Cali and don’t know what kind of form I have” she told British Cycling.  “I won’t be backing off for this race either, the idea is to train through, as the original plan and continue training after the races.”

Trott, one of two riders in the squad of five looking to race the track in London, will also ride the Women’s Omnium in Cali. Laura is the European Champion and has won the Junior worlds before but isn’t expecting anything special in the event in Cali.

“I don’t think I can expect personal bests in the timed events and in the bunch races I will have to race more tactically. I’ll take each event at a time and hope to learn as I go, with some room to improve on my points race especially.”

Interviews from VeloUK

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