As Ed Clancy prepares for what will be his final Olympics, the three-time team pursuit gold medalist has his eye on the future.
Between training camps and track sessions that dominate Clancy’s time with 50 days before the revamped Games, the Yorkshireman continues to develop the Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy which he founded with ex-pro Graham Briggs.
As British Cycling puts its weight in the Everyone Wins campaign to revive local events affected by the pandemic, Clancy believes the Academy’s work has never been more important.
“I think I’m probably going to continue riding my bike a little after Tokyo, but I’m 36 now, I’m not going to continue on forever,” Clancy told the PA News Agency.
“I might be biased, but I think cycling is the best sport in the world. I don’t think there is anything like that where there is this interaction between man and machine. “
British Cycling said 4,500 base events were lost due to the pandemic. Even as lockdown restrictions ease, huge challenges remain in terms of getting clearances and sorting logistics.
But Clancy is sure that at a time when bike shops struggle to keep up with the demand for gear, the appetite for more events is strong.
“I may be overly optimistic, but I really think the coronavirus has opened our eyes to the need and the benefits of being in good physical and mental health,” he added.
“It’s fair to say that people who were somewhat active before the crown, in general, fared better.
“Traffic problems and environmental problems are not going anywhere, so I think there are more reasons than ever for people to cycle.”
After helping kick off the campaign, Clancy was back at the velodrome on Thursday to begin another three-week training block.
Big questions remain as to what Britain can achieve in Tokyo in the men’s team pursuit, an event they have dominated since Bradley Wiggins, Geraint Thomas, Paul Manning and Clancy won gold at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.
At last year’s world championships, Great Britain were almost four seconds off Denmark’s gold medal time – an age in the discipline.
“I think we’re on the right track, but it’s no longer a secret – it’s fair to say we’re not favorites,” Clancy said.
“One team in particular is doing a really good job, and I think at least three others are as well and it will be very, very close for the medals.
“I can’t say too much about the numbers, but we’ve definitely made progress. Is it good enough to win? I guess we’ll all have to wait and see. “
Like any athlete, Clancy must put aside the permanent question marks about the fate of the Games.
“When you’re an athlete, you really focus on the intricacies of the event,” he said.
“All I think about is doing a 12.5 in the first lap, then a 7.3 and a 6.9, I think about where I make a change on the shore, the fundamentals of team pursuit. “
Clancy has long been considered the big brother of this team pursuit team, at least 10 years older than the other six contenders for the selection bar Kian Emadi, 28.
But it’s a role he finally embraced.
“I don’t mind spending time with the TikTok generation at all,” he said with a laugh. “What I would say is that I have never been with such a committed team. Young people are not interested in nightlife and shopping and all that. They are engaged.
“To train hard, to eat well, they love to ride a bike and they desperately want to go as fast as possible and bring back medals. I guess that’s the goal – eat well, sleep well, train well and eventually we’ll get the best result we’re capable of because of it. “