Becky James, one of Britain’s brightest track prospects, took the first of a possible hat-trick of national titles with victory in the 500m time trial on the opening night of the British Championships at the Manchester Velodrome.
The 20-year-old from Abergavenny, the final rider on the track, added to an already impressive list of honours finishing nearly a second ahead of Victoria Williamson. Danielle Khan, another highly-rated youngster who is part of the Olympic Development Programme, came third.
James was a reserve for London but is favourite to fill the vacancy left by Victoria Pendleton’s retirement come Rio 2016. Yesterday she was anamed in the British team for the opening round of the World Cup in Colombia. Last year James, who won a silver and bronze riding for Wales in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, claimed the sprint – beating Jess Varnish – and the keirin at the nationals and is strongly fancied to defend them later in the week. On Saturday she also rides with her sister Rachel in the team sprint.
There was another Welsh victory in the men’s pursuit, and another success for a potential Olympian with Owain Doull beating Jon Dibben, also an Olympic Development Programme rider. The 19-year-old from Cardiff, who competed in the Tour of Britain, caught his Madison team-mate to in 3min 21sec to end the final. Sophie Thornhill won the paracyling open time trail ahead of Paralympic gold medallist Mark Colbourne, who ensured yet another Welsh presence on the first night podium.
Only Philip Hindes, who rides later in the week, of the Olympic team is competing in Manchester giving Britain’s next generation the chance to make an early mark on the road to Rio, an opportunity James and Doull have swiftly taken.