Photos by Kenza Barton Schlee
The first round of the Tissot UCI Track World Cup in Paris marked the start of a new chapter for the Huub Wattbike Test Team. There has been no time spent sitting back on previous successes and achievements. This World Cup was the time to move forward and progress further on the world stage. With the Olympic cycle in full swing the competition is fully loaded with all the best nations coming out all guns blazing.
It wasn’t long after getting on the track in Paris that the team realised it was going to be a fast week. Through the familiarisation sessions, the team progressively found form and speed, settling in well on the quick Saint Quentin en Yvelines track. The swirl of busy training sessions made it unclear on who was favourite, with many nations doing 2-3km efforts on close to world record splits. The turn strategy for qualification was set the evening before, with a slightly more orthodox plan of four long turns with no crazy changes being implemented. However, on the Thursday night the ride did not go entirely to plan. John struggled to find his rhythm in what was his second ever team pursuit, however we still qualified sixth with a time of 3:57.916. This meant the gold medal was off the cards but the fight was definitely on for the bronze. With the pressure on, we knew we had to get one of the fastest two times in the first round. The team altered the strategy to shift the load around between the riders, and agreed to go out at slightly above target race splits. Despite a fan deciding to drop an inflatable banger down the track in front of Jonny, the team executed their plan very well, laying down a massive personal best of 3:53.826 with a 56.2 second final kilo. The fastest of all teams.. Back to what we do best, showing up and turning heads.
This meant we were up against the European champions, Italy, in the bronze medal final. Italy had ridden a national record of 3:53.1 in the rounds, so a the team needed to find another seven tenths of a second to match them. Italy went hard out the gate, gaining a 2 second lead after the opening kilometre, we held the gap and began to draw it back in the final kilo but it was too little too late. We still finished with our second fastest ever time of 3:55.464.
This is the amazing thing about where we have come as a team; the fact that we finished fourth at our opening World Cup with two personal best times, yet we are still looking around thinking “We have more to give. We know we can be on that top step” is crazy. To even think disappointment could creep into our thoughts after what we have achieved against the biggest nations in the sport is a testament of where we have come from and the work we have put in. So, now we move onwards, not sitting back on previous times, always analysing and improving. Next it’s off to Canada, where we hunt for more time and more success.