Cyclingnews.com has a piece on British kilometre specialist Jason Queally aiming for selection in the team pursuit. It says the Briton is after a new challenge. He’s 39 and won gold in Sydney. But is this really a new challenge?
Instead I think we might be seeing the start of a change in the way the pursuit is ridden. Think of a space rocket going into orbit, it often relies on a booster that falls back to earth to leave the final sections of the spaceship heading for orbit. A pursuit squad can also use a short distance specialist as a “booster” to get them into the lead.
For the 4,000m Team Pursuit it means that you introduce a kilo rider into the team alongside three traditional specialists. The presence of a kilo rider helps to ensure a fast start. It’s something the South Australians used in the Aussie State Championships last February.
South Australian coach Tim Decker put a classic pursuiter on for one and a quarter laps on the front who then swung up for kilo specialist James Glasspool (pictured, with black overshoes, look how much bigger his thighs are) who did his specialist effort for three and a quarter laps. Like a spent launch rocket, he pulled out all together to leave the trio to complete the distance. This big effort gave the SA team a 1000m split time of 1min04sec, putting them two seconds up on their rivals. This is a big difference and can upset the opposing team but it’s also a big head start in terms of absolute times, useful for qualifying.
Jason Queally might find a new challenge but I suspect the story is less about his career but instead a new race tactic. Given British Cycling are known for their innovation and free thinking, this could be an experiment on their part to copy the South Australian “booster” tactic.