Joanna Rowsell, Dani King, Laura Trott and coach Paul Manning talk about what’s required to win the women’s team pursuit

 

Britain are the world champions in the women’s team pursuit and the hot favourites to win gold in the Olympic event, which begins on Friday.

Joanna Rowsell, Dani King and Laura Trott set a record as they won the world title in April in Melbourne and the same trio are expected to feature in London, although Wendy Houvenaghel, the fourth squad member, could yet force her way into the line-up. Here the World Championship trio and coach Paul Manning talk about what’s required in the pursuit of glory.

Joanna Rowsell

“Sometimes on race day — I don’t know if that will be the case in London — I wake up quite nervous. Once I’m at the track, I’m fine. Someone else might feel nervous but it helps we can just talk about it.

We go through the timings for the day, like we’ll be riding for 3 minutes 18 seconds or whatever it is. Our coach Paul Manning’s done it so knows what he’s talking about. He understands not just the technical stuff but the pressures of competition. He’s been coaching us for two years and we’ve got better each time.

I’m the ‘man one’ rider if you like, setting the pace at the front of the team and getting the team up to speed. You need quite a lot of power to get you off the line, as you’re looking to get up to top speed by about a lap and a quarter. It’s quite difficult to get the start just right because you’ve tapered and everything feels a little different. I went out too fast at the Olympic velodrome at the test event and it takes a lot of practice to get it right. The other key is not being bothered about your opposition, like Australia, who went out very fast at the World Championships. I do a lap and a quarter at the start and pull off. I build up so much lactic acid in that first lap and a quarter. You’re getting up to top speed in a very big gear. You then have to make sure you recover from the next turn — we normally do about a lap each but that varies as you’re making a split-second decision. Then it’s all about consistency throughout the 3km. Because of the start, by the third kilometre, I’m just hanging on in there. Everyone relies on their team-mates and you have to help each other out.”

Dani King

“I’m always excited rather than anxious when we get to the track to warm up. By that stage, it’s time to go out there and prove what you can do. We all talk to each other beforehand and the stuff we say is usually very motivational, positive stuff.

In the pursuit, if Jo goes out too fast or too slow, it’s my job to deal with that. It’s just built into me now to know what feels right or wrong in that sense. I think it just becomes instinctive from so many efforts.

We’re helped by Paul walking the line. If he walks forward, we’re a tenth down and we’re going too slow. If he walks backwards, we’re a tenth up. He has a massive job that people probably don’t realise and he helps us a lot. He’s a great coach and I really feel like I’ve stepped up massively by having him there.

He always knows how we’re feeling and really understands if we don’t know something. Also, it’s not easy looking after that many emotional women. The first six laps actually feel quite easy as you’re getting into it but, if you get it wrong, you can really die towards the end.

Anything can be thrown at you in the race so you have to be prepared. In Australia, at the World Championships, I hit a padded marker but I’m quite a good bike handler so I was okay but it shook me. You’re going fast and so close to each other that you can easily crash, often at the end. When racing, I’m not really thinking anything, I’m just keeping my head down. When you cross the line, you have no idea what you’re doing or where you are.”

Laura Trott

“The event starts in some ways when Paul breaks the news of which of the four of us will make the team. He sits us down altogether and I’m lucky that I’ve never been in the position of the person missing out.

You feel really sorry for that person. I wouldn’t like it. I remember Dani was devastated at the London World Cup and I was thinking if I was in that position, I’d be a mess. We discuss what we’re going to do beforehand but it’s about being versatile, not having tactics set in stone and being able to change what you do. It’s hard to know when to go longer and when to go shorter as you know how you’re feeling but you don’t know how the girls are going exactly.

We don’t decide things exactly, like I didn’t decide in Melbourne before that I was going to do a two-lap turn at one point, I just thought I could do it and that was it. We do shout sometimes to each other but in London it was a bit pointless as the noise was so much you can’t hear a thing. Jo is such a fast starter and Paul sometimes has to rein her in. We’ve all got different strengths. I’m the quickest sprinter so I can keep that sprint power in reserve at the start for later on. Dani’s is such a good starter as well.”

Paul Manning

“They’re a good team, although it’s come together quicker than maybe I thought it would. They’ve got great self-belief and they will all do their jobs. They’re young and, of course, they have some ups and downs as well but they do feed off each other.

It’s so close between the four of them and, such is the Olympic schedule, I’ll probably look to use all four. It’s a bike race so I’m not too worried about the final time. I’m not worried if they fall behind as I’m confident in the times they’re doing.

I’m never quite happy, which seems a good position to be in heading into a Games. If and when they win, I can appreciate it then and tell them it’s a great achievement.

It’s then that I step back and let them enjoy it. They can get a bit emotional.”

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick