Cycling: Marchant gearing up for next stage on road to Rio

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Katy Marchant, a product of the same athletics school that elevated Jessica Ennis-Hill to the top of the world, goes for glory on two wheels this week at the European Track Cycling Championships in Switzerland.

And the former heptathlete-turned-sprint cyclist does so in the form of her life, having just won four gold medals at the national championships.

It is not that long ago that Leeds’s Marchant was plotting a career as a heptathlete under the expert tutelage of Ennis-Hill’s coach Toni Minichiello.

But it was a performance during a wattbike session in the winter of 2012 that prompted Minichiello to suggest the 19-year-old try cycling.

Less than three years later she is one of the rising stars at the British Cycling base in Manchester and this week looks to transfer her form onto the boards at the continental championships.

“I would say my form is the best it has ever been, which puts me in a great position going into the Euros,” said Marchant, 22, who won the 500m time-trial, sprint, keirin and team sprint British titles last month.

“The nationals have boosted my confidence, so mentally and physically I’m in good shape.”

To put the achievement into context, Laura Trott – the darling of the London 2012 velodrome – won three titles.

Yet given the relatively short time in which she has been training as a professional cyclist, Marchant has yet to translate that form onto the international stage. Last year she went to the European Championships in Guadeloupe just hoping to get experience.

This week in Grenchen, there is a level of expectation on her shoulders, even though she insists she is far from the finished article.

“I feel like I’m getting there now,” said Marchant, who will ride the keirin and sprints.

“I’m racing a lot better, I’m more at one with my bike, I’ve been doing a lot of tactical training. But I’ve still got ground to make up on the established riders.

I don’t think you can exchange experience for anything and there are a lot of girls who have got a lot more experience than me, but I don’t see myself as being disadvantaged. If anything, it gives me more room for improvement than everyone else and, hopefully, come Rio I’ll be just about there.”

As she moves through the gears on her bid to make the Olympic team, Marchant appreciates that ther climate within British Cycling will only get more intense, which is something she welcomes.

“It’s a real cut-throat sport and I have been known to sit and think, ‘Who does he think he’s talking to like that?’,” she said of the increasing demands placed on the riders.

“But at the end of the day, they [coaches] are as passionate as we are and they want it as much for us as we do. We’re all in as a team.

“That cut-throat nature brings the best out of me. I’m quite a feisty character and like to get straight to the point. I would rather someone say ‘This is how it is, this is what you need to improve on’ than beat around the bush, because we don’t have time.

“What we need to work on for Rio needs working on now.”

Following the European Championships, Marchant and the British squad go straight into the three-leg World Cup series over the winter.

Annie Simpson in action.

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