The cream of the world cycling crop will descend on Cali in Colombia tomorrow for the UCI World Championships 2014.
With so much talent in one velodrome, the race for gold is going to be tight no matter what the discipline. With only so many medals to go around, here are the competitors most likely to win big in Cali.
British Cycling has grown into a global superpower. Memories of those seven track golds from the London 2012 Olympic Games are still strong (h/t TeamGB.com) and the Brits will want a dominant performance in Colombia.
Leading the charge will be two-time world champion Becky James. The 21-year-old will be out to defend the sprint and keirin titles she won in Minsk last year.
James is a laid back woman who thrives under pressure. She said, via Scott Hobro at BritishCycling.org.uk:
Last year at the world champs in Minsk I found I was really relaxed. I just had a mindset that I didn't have any expectations whatsoever and I just found I got so much more out of myself because I didn't expect too much.
Alongside her will be teammate Jason Kenny, who is attempting to defend his keirin world title. Olympic gold medalist Laura Trott will also take to the velodrome, aiming to win the omnium title that was denied her by American Sarah Hammer in 2013 (h/t BritishCycling.org.uk).
Germany's Sprinting Elite
The trio of Rene Enders, Maximilian Levy and Stefan Botticher took the team sprint title last year in Minsk (h/t Tissottiming.com), and the Germans are favourites to take the crown again in 2014.
They have a strong pedigree coming into the UCI Track World Championships. With a line-up of Enders, Robert Forstemann and Joachim Eilers, Germany smashed the team sprint world record in Mexico last December. And by adding defending individual sprint champion Stefan Boetticher into the mix, the Germans present a formidable team.
Even Britain's super-confident Jason Kenny has commented on how fast the German's can go. He said, via Yahoo Sport:
Germany obliterated the world record in Mexico and they've been going well all year. We've not been going that bad, but everyone else has stepped forward, so we've slipped down the order a little bit.
Who can blame him for giving credit to the Germans? When their team is powered by legs such as these, it's difficult to bet against them.
Australian Golden Girl Anna Mears
It would take a writer more respected than me to pay proper tribute to the great Anna Mears, but the Australian deserves her place among the best of the bunch at these world championships.
Going for her eleventh world title, Mears is still a force to be reckoned with as she takes on the 500m time trial.
At the age of 30, she will be one of the more senior athletes at the championships, but Mears is absolutely determined to take a medal home with her. Per Reece Homfray at the Herald Sun, Mears said:
I hold very seriously the commitment of a lot of people I work with to enable me to be the athlete that I am. So in essence I work as hard as I do because I don’t want to let them down.
World Record-Holder Francois Pervis
Frenchman Francois Pervis is the fastest man on two wheels over a kilometre. His time of 56.303 seconds, set last year in Mexico, is something even his own father doubted was possible (h/t UCI.ch). But Pervis comes to Colombia in top form to take on the kilometre time trial, sprint and keirin.
He's a popular guy around the velodrome, posing here for a picture with Mears, two world record-holders together.
If Pervis can take a hat-trick of medals, it will be a shock to the Germans and the British, but Pervis is no ordinary cyclist. He could well become the face of Cali 2014.
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