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Track World Cup 08-09 Round 1 - CDM

Manchester, Great Britain, October 31-November 2, 2008

Manchester welcomes conquering Olympians home

By Ben Atkins

Can Team Great Britain repeat its dominance?
Photo ©: John Pierce
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After the glamour and prestige of this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing the world's top track riders return to the day to day business of the World Cup. As well as the kudos of World Cup victories, the process now begins for qualification for next spring's World Championships, and many are looking beyond to the next Olympic Games in London in 2012.

It's hard to see the Great Britain team managing to enjoy the same kind of domination as it enjoyed in Beijing – or indeed the World Championships here in March – but the home crowd will be 100% behind the home riders and will expect to be rewarded.

The notable absentee from the home team will be three-time Beijing Olympic champion Chris Hoy. The rest of the Great Britain sprinters will be battling to fill the big Scot's shoes though, and Jason Kenny and Ross Edgar – silver medallists behind Hoy in the sprint and Keirin respectively – will be flying the flag in his absence. They'll be missing the competition of the top French sprinters, who will make a later debut to the World Cups. Also missing is women's individual pursuit champion Rebecca Romero, but here again silver medallist Wendy Houvenaghel will be there in her place.

Double Olympian Bradley Wiggins would be the overwhelming favourite for both pursuits, but will not start Friday's individual pursuit. His national team is now missing the retired Paul Manning for the team pursuit, and Wiggins will likely be breaking in a new rider there. He will have a different partner if he rides the Madison though as his partner in World championship victory and Olympic defeat Mark Cavendish will not be riding, and indeed has now committed his future to the road.

Other World champions present include Teun Mulder of the Netherlands, keen to show his rainbow jersey in the non-Olympic event. Points race World champion Aliaksandr Lisouski of Belarus returns to Manchester, but his countryman – and Tinkoff team-mate – Vasili Kiryienka does not.

With many riders resting after a long season – many of them on the road as well as the track – and some retiring after the Olympic Games, there are a few notable names missing from start list. Gone is ever popular French sprinter Arnaud Tournant, and Olympic Points champion Joan Llaneras, both of whom hung up their wheels after the games this August. Beijing Madison champion Walter Fernando Perez is present, but with a different partner in the form of Sebastian Donadio.

The women enjoy far more events than their pitiful three at the Olympics and Victoria Pendleton of Team Sky+ HD will be out to impress more than the once she was allowed in Beijing. She will be unable to defend her World team sprint title though as she does not have a partner in the team in the absence of Shanaze Reade.

Sadly, World and Olympic points champion Marianne Vos is one of those on the absent list, but this leaves space for plenty of others to shine.