One Olympic cycle can make a massive difference. In late autumn 2012, the World Cup at the Chris Hoy velodrome in Glasgow bookended a summer of golden glory for British cyclists in which Sir Bradley Wiggins had won the Tour de France for the first time, Mark Cavendish had worn the rainbow jersey to great effect, and the track events at the London Olympics had been dominated to the extent that the opposition were reduced to muttering darkly about “special wheels”.
Four years on, Great Britain are again in Glasgow, where racing started on Thursday night with a team pursuit qualifying session for men and women but in a different context. The team are headless.
The post of performance director was advertised this week, six months after Shane Sutton stepped down as the coach over allegations of “inappropriate and discriminatory language” upheld a week ago by an inquiry.
An inquiry into the background to the Sutton saga is under way, and on Thursday night he indicated his intention to appeal. At the Rouleur Classic exhibition in London, he told the Press Association: “I can categorically state I never made those comments I was originally alleged to have made. I’m pretty sure people will be sitting back going ‘well, he’s going to appeal’ – which is going to happen now. I will take it from there. I will produce the evidence. Everything comes out in the dirty washing. I am quite sure the evidence this time will prevail and I will win.”
The other architect of the 2012 triumphs, Sir Dave Brailsford – who left British Cycling in 2014 – is in a precarious position at Team Sky as UK Anti-Doping investigates the delivery of a package containing an undisclosed “medical product” to the team.
It is also likely the culture, media and sport parliamentary select committee will question British Cycling in December over therapeutic use exemptions after the revelation that Wiggins had an injection of the corticosteroid triamcinolone immediately before his 2012 Tour victory and on two other occasions close to major target events; the substance was taken within anti-doping rules after a TUE and no offence was committed, but criticism has been widespread.
Finally, along with a new team head, the governing body is looking for a chief executive after Ian Drake announced he would leave in April next year.