Peloton Watch
  World Championship medallists excited by addition of women's Madison to Olympic programme  
  June 27th 2017  
  Elinor Barker, Emily Nelson, Jolien D'hoore, Lotte Kopecky, Alex Manly and Amy Cure. Photo: Arne Mill/frontalvision  
  The announcement by the International Olympic Committee that the Madison would be added to the track cycling programme for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games was greeted with excitement by riders and fans alike.

In Tokyo for the men it is a return and the women it will be the first time and a major step forward in the events development. The women's Madison remains a new event at international level with the first race held less than a year ago as a demonstration event at the 2016 UCI Junior Track World Championships. Since then the growth of the event has moved quickly with Continental Championships and the Glasgow and Los Angeles World Cups holding the first UCI women's Madisons.

Belgium's Jolien D'hoore and Lotte Kopecky claimed the first world title edging out Great Britain's Elinor Barker and Emily Nelson and Australia's Amy Cure and Alex Manly. All six medallists share their thoughts on what it was like racing the event in Hong Kong, how the event improved over the 2016/17 season and where the Madison goes from here.

What was it like racing the first ever women's Madison World Championship this year?

Jolien D'hoore: I feel honoured to be the first ever women’s World Champion in the Madison. It’s another step for women’s cycling and I’m happy I made my mark together with Lotte Kopecky in this race.

Lotte Kopecky: It was fun racing Madison at the worlds, had my first race in the Europeans, witch Jolien and I won, a second race on a meeting in Ghent (we won) and than we had the worlds (WE WON!). So three out of three is quite a good score. We both wanted to win and knew we are a strong team but we had never raced against countries like Australia, America, New Zealand. So we were a bit nervous before the race but once it started the race went on and we managed to time everything in the right moment.

Elinor Barker: Exciting, nerve wracking, exhausting- everything a Madison should be!

Emily Nelson: I felt really excited to have made selection for the Women's Madison event as within the squad we have a lot of very strong bunch riders. It was really special to get to race with it being the first one for women and now an Olympic event!

Amy Cure: It was incredible. It was such a great experience to be apart of history. It's such a great race.

Alex Manly: An amazing experience. It had always been a dream of mine before it was announced that it would actual be happening. Of course being the first one I was nervous but it was great.

The women's Madison has only been raced at UCI level for less than a year how have you seen the standard of racing improve in that time?

Jolien D'hoore: Lotte and I have only done three Madison races this winter. Our first race was the Euros, then an international race in Ghent and Worlds. It’s hard to tell… Because the sprints are every 10 laps it’s hard to take a lap on the other strong riders. It’s basically sprinting and recovering for the next sprint. Personally, our skills have improved over the last few months. Tactically we can read the race a lot better and we know each other strengths and weaknesses.

Lotte Kopecky: There were a few crashes at the Worlds, but honestly I expected worse… I think it’s normal there are dangerous situations, you will always have. But if we race it more everybody will get more experience and it will be safer. Compared to the Europeans the worlds was already a big improvement.

Elinor Barker: Yes I have. Personally I only raced two high standard events (LA World Cup in February and the world champs in April) and still saw a big improvement in the standard and the confidence of the riders. It's a complex event, so of course you can't expect people who have never trained at it to be at a high level straight away. I'm sure the standard will continue to rise in the next few years.

Emily Nelson: I think that the standard of racing in the women's Madison event was higher than a lot of people expected last year. There is always going to be a bit of diversity as some countries focus on it more than others. However I think that the quality of racing was still very high and it's exciting to see how the Madison event will move forward in the future.

Amy Cure: I have seen a lot of improvements every single race, so I'm really looking forward to it.

Alex Manly: I raced both of the Madison's at the World cups and at Worlds. I definitely think the standard improved and it will only keep improving with the more races we do. So much is going on in a Madison and the best way to learn and improve is to race every Madison we can.

How important is it for the development of the women's Madison for it to be added to the Olympic programme?

Jolien D'hoore: Very important. I think we proved we can also deliver an exciting race. Becoming an Olympic event means the level will grow over the next 3 years. By this women's cycling on the track steps up once again.

Lotte Kopecky: I think the Madison is a big advantage for the development of women's track cycling in general. But now it became Olympic the riders will train more specifically for it and it will get a higher level.

Elinor Barker: I think for cycling in general, having a Madison in the schedule is huge. It attracts so many big riders (how many huge names were tweeting about a track comeback the day of the announcement?) which in turn attracts fans and media attention. It's one of the most exciting races and may be easier for Joe public to follow than an omnium, expanding cycling's audience again.

Emily Nelson: I think with it now in the Olympic programme it will get the media attention and support that it needs in order to raise the profile of the event for women. It's always been a favourite of mine to watch with the men and I have no doubt we'll see the same kind of fast and exciting racing in the women's event.

Amy Cure: I think it's great. It will also get a lot more girls into this event, which is great.

With the Madison added to the Olympic programme do you think we will see more riders and nations focus on the Madison?

Jolien D'hoore: I think so. A lot of road riders will try to make the combination road-track (Madison). A lot of them have already a past on the track. To be a good Madison rider it’s an advantage to ride on the road as well.

Lotte Kopecky: For sure! I think the 'big' nations will get better in Madison because it is an Olympic event now. But so will we!

Elinor Barker: Yes I think so. I think it will help out riders training for the omnium as well, having a few more teammates to train with for the bunch races.

Emily Nelson: I definitely think that countries will start to focus on Madison more now that it's an Olympic event. Its now 1 of 3 medals up for grabs in the track endurance section and an Olympic Gold medal is something that every track rider aspires to.

Amy Cure: For sure, this will be one of the best things about it. We will get a lot more riders for more counties getting out there.

Alex Manly: I definitely think there will be a bigger focus on the Madison and I am sure we will also see plenty of Roadies come back to the track. It is an amazing opportunity and a great thing for the sport.

Gives potentially three riders from the TP line up an opportunity for a second ride instead of just one rider the past two Olympics with the omnium important as well for the growth of track cycling?

Jolien D'hoore: It opens up a lot more perspectives for every nation. It’s a win-win situation for everybody.

Lotte Kopecky: Yes I think it is, now there are more athletes that get the possibility to ride a ‘’bunch’’ event and not only the omnium specialists that get a second medal chance.

Elinor Barker: I think it will grow track cycling but also help individuals to grow themselves. It would be very difficult for a pure team pursuiter to get selected now as there's effectively one TP spot secured for non bunch race riders. Riders now need to show that they can ride well technically in unpredictable scenarios as well as in a team pursuit situation.

Emily Nelson: I think it's good to see another bunch race added to the Olympics as these are the exciting ones for both spectators and riders. It makes the training slightly different as instead of going into the Olympics with 5 Team Pursuit riders, as a nation you need to have a variety of strong bunch racers as well which I think will mix it up a bit.

Amy Cure: Yes, it will be interesting to see how many numbers they can now take. It's very exciting and I can't wait to give it a good crack.

Alex Manly: This is super important. It gives more incentive for other riders who may have been just on the edge of making the omnium spot to continue. Sport at such a high level is cut throat and there are so many riders who are extremely talented who may be in the top 10 in the world and miss a spot in the Olympics because there country is only allowed one rider to do an event. It is great for growth of track cycling as the Olympics is the biggest platform to advertise the sport and the Madison is arguably the most exciting event to draw attention to the sport.
 © 2016