TalkingShop: European Keirin Champion – Matt Crampton

The racing at the London World will be properly serious says Matt Crampton who is ready to rock and roll on the Olympic track in just over a week.


With a Sprint team as strong as the Great Britain one; and with a rider like Sir Chris Hoy who is Olympic Champion in all three sprint disciplines; getting an opportunity to race is never easy for Matt and the other riders in the GB sprint team.

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Recently, Matt qualified second fastest in the Sprint at the Revolution and ended the competition in second place behind Jason Kenny. The London World Cup though will be a very different competition he says. Matt admits that it is very satisfying to be selected and he’ll be going there primarily to race the Sprint and the Keirin.

He may also ride the Kilo as a way of having a hit out prior to the Keirin (Saturday) and Sprint (Sunday). The Team Sprint will take place on the Friday and doing the Kilo may also give him a chance of recording a standing start time without actually being in the Team Sprint.

Getting a ride for GB in a major competition for a long time has revolved around getting a ride in the Team Sprint. Nations generally don’t have the luxury of having a Team Sprint squad and then riders for the Sprint and Keirin. But breaking into the GB Team Sprint squad is proving difficult.

“We have been going through a few things while we wait to see what happens to Ross going for man one” Matt explained . “I’ve had to wait it out but of course, I’m really happy to have a place in the Sprint and Keirin and to have a really good shot at them.”

Revolution was great but the London World Cup will be properly serious says Matt!  Pictured is the final between Jason Kenny (left) and Matt.

With only one spot available to the country in the Sprint and the Keirin at the Olympics, Matt is fully aware how important those competitions will be in London at the World Cup. While Matt says he’s happy doing man two or three in the Team Sprint, with the likes of Sir Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny in those positions at the moment, he realises how tough a task it is to oust either one of them from those positions.

The key seems to be whether Ross Edgar can make Man 1 his own and in London (World Cup), that will one of the crucial tests for the team and Ross. Matt is aware that, should Ross not make the position his own, and Jason Kenny goes into man 1, a place in man 2 may be open to him. The Team Sprint at Revolution says Matt was a bit of a trial for man 2 and he says with Sir Chris being so strong in man 3, he’ll see how things are after the London World Cup.

For now, it’s the Sprint and Keirin that Matt is focusing on.  Matt won the European Keirin Championship and one of the bonuses is that it gives him a place in that event at the Worlds. It rewards not just him but also the team and takes the pressure off a bit with selection and the task of trying to prove himself.

The World Cup in London will be in many ways, bigger than the Worlds this year, something perhaps my Aussies friends will disagree with! Matt however is no doubt about the importance of the event. “The World Cup in London is going to be a very big World Cup, if not bigger than the Worlds just because of the whole set up which is geared towards the Olympics”.

“The experience we’ll gain on that track will mean a lot to us all. The media will be there in force and there will be a lot of pressure on the GB riders and the team. Everyone from around the world is really geared up for this World Cup.”

Matt: “I’m ready….”
The build-up, says Matt, has gone well. “We’re ready, I’m ready” he says. “Revolution was very well timed a few weeks out to help us get nice and sharp and the training programme has been good. I hard a really good block before Christmas when I stayed at home in Britain and made the most of all the training tools and facilities we have here. Then the next phase fell into place with the intervals and I’m ready to race.”

“My strength and power is certainly up from previous years. The standing starts are better and the speed work has been good. My flying 200 at Revolution was a good little indicator; to go 10.1 after all the training the week before and the temperatures were  cold; that was a good a little marker.”

For the 6,000 people that will pack into the Olympic venue, the sprint competition is quite an amazing one to watch.  Riders from around the world, who like Matt, tuck themselves away on the track for months on end and then all of sudden, converge on a Velodrome somewhere in the world to record times within thousands of each other at the top end.

The Sprint competition is the tightest it’s ever been in terms of the times they are doing. Not only have the major nations made progress to close up on GB, or in the case of the Germans, overtake them, the smaller nations too are no longer the whipping boys of the super powers in cycling.

The competition has got more intense and the crowd will see that in London as will those in Melbourne. What we see in the Olympics is another matter because the qualification process for that is such that not all the best sprinters will be there … many will be at home while lesser sprinters get to compete. IE, the best nations are chosen from different areas, not necessarily the best sprinters but that is a discussion for another day.

For now, Matt is busy training. Ten days out from the racing in London, not a lot has changed with the training with only one or two elements taken out as the emphasis on top end speed becomes more important. Then, the rest phase next week after they travel to London will ensure they get on to the track on Friday (17th Feb) in the best condition possible.

In the family …
And finally, it’s not just Matt we should be keeping an eye out for. Who knows, in a few years, his younger sister Jess may well join him at major track competitions as Jess, like Matt, has chosen to be a sprinter. Their brother Robert meanwhile has taken a different direction to race on the road and in 2012, is going to be making the journey to Belgium to race thanks to the Dave Rayner fund.

Matt went to the Dave Rayner dinner with Robert and was impressed by the help it gives young riders. “I thought it was really good because I can see how much Rob loves it and how much he wants to get out there and how hard that is to do when you’re not on the GB programme. The Dave Rayner Fund is very special for looking after these riders.”

For Matt though, whatever the outcome in London, or in Melbourne and the Olympics that follow,  like so many on the GB team, they have lottery funding to thank for the chance of fulfilling their potential in their chosen discipline. In just over a week, Matt will get the chance to do just that and our best wishes to Matt. We certainly hope he can realise his ambitions at what will be the most exciting Track World Cup for a long long time…

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