Number 7: Ed Clancy
Last year’s position: N/A
Ed Clancy is such a key component of the Great Britain team pursuit squad that he is unlikely to be the country’s representative in the Omnium at the London Olympics.
In the pursuit squad, Clancy is like the drummer in a great rock band. He is the one constant in a frequently changing line-up. While there are plenty of options for the coaches selectors to mull over – Geraint Thomas and Bradley Wiggins are currently out of the picture but will be likely to come back in for London – Clancy is the ever-present, the first name on the teamsheet, to use footballing parlance.
The 25-year-old from Yorkshire was joined by riders from both ends of the age range – youngsters Steven Burke and Andy Tennant, and veteran Jason Queally – when they won the first senior European Championship title in a respectable time of 4-00.482.
The astonishingly young Australian quartet of Bobridge, Hepburn, Howard and Meyer are currently hitting the 3-56 mark but Clancy is experienced enough to bide his time. He knows there is a long way to go until London.
And this year he is has put all that experience to effective use in the Omnium. It’s a bit unfair to say that the Omnium favours the jack-of-all-trades, master of none, because Clancy certainly does not fit into that category.
However, there is nothing he can’t do and his versatility helped him win the World Championship title in Copenhagen in March. His fast start meant he had the edge in the flying lap and the kilometre. His pursuiting base gave him a top three in the individual pursuit and he held his own in the bunch races to clinch victory. As he admitted, the points and scratch races were a “massive learning curve”, but he threw himself in and got on with it.
Just as importantly, he was fourth, just one point outside the medals at the European Championships in Poland. That was a critical result because it kicked off the qualification period for the Olympic Games and got Great Britain off to a strong start.
The job in hand is to qualify an omnium place for the Olympics. The question of how to fill it will come later. Clancy is the ideal rider, and is certainly capable of winning a medal. But he is such a critical part of the team pursuit squad he is needed there. It will be up to the coaches to decide whether he can do both. It would be a huge commitment and much will depend on how the track programme for the London Olympics is structured. If the team pursuit comes first, it might be possible, but you couldn’t envisage British Cycling risking their key man in the Omnium, with its physical demands and the risk of crashing in the bunch races, if the team pursuit followed it.
An individual world champion and a silver medallist in the team pursuit this year, Clancy has also taken to elite criterium racing like a duck to water. He won the national title in Beverley ahead of Ian Wilkinson in the summer and took a string of other crit wims (Stafford, Blackburn and Warwick).
He’s not flashy or showy. He gets on with the job without a fuss. He is a rider’s rider, whose contributions sometimes go unnoticed by the public. Asked if his Omnium world title makes him the most accomplished all-round cyclist in the world he replied: “I don’t know about that. But it makes me the most tired.”
Gold medal, Omnium, World Track Championships (Copenhagen)
Silver medal, team pursuit, World Track Championships (Copenhagen)
1st Stafford Grand Prix
1st National Circuit Race Championship
1st Blackburn Grand Prix
1st Warwich Town Centre race
Gold medal, Team pursuit, European Track Championships (Pruszkow)
4th Omnium, European Track Championships (Pruszkow)
Cycling Weekly’s Top British Riders of 2010 advent calendar: We will reveal one rider per day behind the virtual doors of our sparkly advent calendar from Wednesday December 1 to Christmas Eve, Friday December 24. The top eight will then be revealed in Cycling Weekly magazine’s final issue of the year, which will be in the shops on December 30 2010.