The squad comprises Annie Last (elite women), Alice Barnes (under-23 women), Grant Ferguson, Iain Paton and Mike Thompson (all under-23 men). What’s missing from that list? That’s right – we have no elite men…
These riders will be racing for GB points at round one in Novo Mesto Na Morave in the Czech Republic, and round two in Albstadt in Germany – though they won’t all be racing in the Great Britain Cycling Team’s colours, as Grant Freguson and Alice Barnes will be riding for their trade team, BETCH.nl Superior Brentjens Racing.
Points count toward the GB team’s Olympic qualification slots, as well as each rider’s individual World Cup rankings. However, BC’s medal-centric attitude of ‘If you’re not going to podium, then we’re not going to select you to race’ is very prevalent and it’s not clear if we’re going to see many riders to cheer on at the Olympics, despite the huge expense and organisation behind Britain’s cross country racing (when compared to the efforts made to support the non-Olympic (therefore it doesn’t really matter when it comes to Sport England’s funding) sport of downhilling, where we can’t help but produce World Champ after World Champ.)
British Cycling has this to say about our current Olympic qualification chances:
“At this stage in Olympic qualification we are on track to qualify one male rider. We’re outside the qualification ranking at this moment in time for the women but we’re hopeful that the women’s squad can produce the results to gain the qualification points we need. Whilst it’s likely that we will fill the places which we qualify with British riders, we will adhere to our policy that riders will only be selected if they are deemed to be podium competitive or if it represents a development opportunity for a young exceptional rider.”