LEEDS RIDER Katy Marchant is gearing up for a crucial year, beginning at this weekend’s HSBC UK National Track Championships in Manchester.
The event, which opens today and concludes on Sunday, will be the first test of Marchant’s form ahead of the UCI Track World Championships and Commonwealth Games where the 24-year-old is expected to be a leading medal prospect.
Marchant, a bronze medallist in the individual sprint at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, is fresh from a training camp on Australia’s Gold Coast and determined to regain national honours after missing last January’s championships due to a knee injury.
Winner of four gold medals – in the sprint, team sprint, 500m time trial and keirin – two years ago, this weekend gives Marchant an opportunity to make up for lost time.
“To miss last year was a huge disappointment,” she admitted.
“Injuries are never good, but to miss the opportunity to race on home soil is really disappointing so I’m really looking forward to getting back this year.”
Marchant is set to represent Great Britain at the Worlds, held in the Netherlands in March, before donning England colours at the Commonwealth Games in Australia. She said: “It’s quite funny because at training we’ve got quite a few Welsh riders, a lot of Scottish riders and now we’re going to the Commonwealth Games as opponents. It’s always really nice to go and represent your country and it will be a different experience going there to represent England rather than Great Britain as we do at World Cups and World Championships. It’s going to be a great atmosphere.”
She added: “Riding against your team-mates is always a good experience. You could say it’s an advantage because you know how the other person rides, but then equally they could say the same about you.
“When I get on the track I try not to look at who I’m racing. I just go out with a game plan and ride my race and hopefully come away with the win.”
Marchant ended 2017 on a high by collecting a silver medal in the keirin at the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Milton, Canada, last month. Her team sprint partnership with Senior Academy rider Sophie Capewell secured a highest-ever position of fourth in Canada and the duo are targeting Olympic glory at Tokyo in two years’ time.
“It was our first time racing together in the Euros at the start of the season,” said Marchant, “so to keep improving every time we go out together shows the potential we’ve got.”