The Dutch team sprinters want to win the world title for the third year in a row at the World Championship track cycling in Berlin. The success team can give a blow to the competition five months before the Games, even though internal competition is perhaps the greatest.
He can't tell the times, but Harrie Lavreysen's big smile betrays enough about his performance a week and a half ago at the special test moment in Grenchen. "I rode a personal record on my own lap," says the 22-year-old world sprint champion and sprint. "In other words: I've never been better. And I hope to extend that to the World Cup."
The test moment on the Swiss cycling track was intended as a qualification for the world championships in Berlin and for the Games, but it also became a confirmation for the track sprinters. "I think we are all driving faster than ever," says Matthijs Büchli.
The goal of the Sports Team of the Year 2018 is simple: after European and world titles in 2018 and 2019, they want to become the Olympic champions for the first time in early August. This week's World Cup is important, but also a measuring point towards Tokyo.
"We drove a world cup for the last time in early December, so the World Cup is a good time to see if the other top countries have come closer to us," says coach Hugo Haak. "I think we have certainly gotten better ourselves. Hopefully we can give the competition a go again on Wednesday."
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Lavreysen alone is already certain of the Games
It is typical of the power of Dutch track sprinting that the biggest question mark five months before the Games is who can go to Tokyo. In a team of five world champions (Roy van den Berg, Nils van 't Hoenderdaal, Lavreysen, Jeffrey Hoogland and Büchli) and with only three places in a team sprint team, the competition is fierce. "A luxury problem? Definitely," Büchli smiles.
National coach Hugo Haak, in consultation with his athletes, cycling association KNWU and NOC * NSF, has compiled an extensive selection procedure, in which test moments such as in Grenchen are central.
"We introduced that for the first time for the World Cup last year," explains Haak. "So we have practiced it many times and now it is normal for everyone to make the selection in this way."
Lavreysen is the only track printer to be sure of an Olympic ticket. De Brabander is the only Dutchman who fully focuses on 'position two' - the man who takes care of the second of a total of three rounds - and the test moment in Grenchen was decisive for that place.
The position of starter (Van den Berg or Van 't Hoenderdaal) is decided at a test moment in June, while the final driver (Hoogland or Büchli) is designated based on the results of a week and a half ago and that of the World Cup.
Matthijs Büchli is not yet sure about Tokyo. (Photo: Pro Shots)
Büchli: "The World Cup has an extra load"
All these rules are necessary because it is forbidden to select four men for the Olympic team sprint. There is, however, a considerable chance that the KNWU will do a trick by registering track cyclist Jan-Willem van Schip as a road cyclist, which means that fourth place will be released.
The cycling association will make a decision about this after the World Cup. According to general director Thorwald Veneberg, the sprinters in Berlin must "show that they are still of world class".
"As a result, the World Cup has an extra load," acknowledges Büchli, who is currently lagging behind in his "team sprint" with Hoogland and can most benefit from an extra place for a track cyclist.
"My position towards the KNWU was: it cannot be that as a world champion keirin I am not allowed to go to the Games. We have to show again at the World Championship that it adds something if we send a fourth track printer to Tokyo and then I think that it will be okay. "
The qualification of the men's team sprint at the World Cup in Berlin starts on Wednesday at 7.15 p.m. The final is scheduled for 9.35 p.m.
Dutch selection World Championship track cycling
- Men's endurance components: Roy Eefting, Yoeri Havik, Jan-Willem van Schip
- Women's endurance components: Amy Pieters, Kirsten Wild
- Men sprint: Roy van den Berg, Harrie Lavreysen, Matthijs Büchli, Jeffrey Hoogland, Theo Bos, Sam Ligtlee,
- Women's sprint: Shanne Braspennincx, Laurine van Riessen, Kyra Lamberink, Steffie van der Peet