Double Olympic champion Laura Trott has taken to Facebook to expand on comments in a Daily Mail interview with her and boyfriend Jason Kenny in which the couple said that the Commonwealth Games is “not taken seriously” and is “devalued” British Cycling meanwhile has responded to the article by saying it is fully committed to the event, being held in Glasgow this summer.
In the newspaper’s interview with the couple, who revealed after securing two gold medals each at the London 2012 Olympics that they were in a relationship, Trott said of the Commonwealth Games: “A lot of people don’t even take it seriously. It’s the same with a lot of countries.
“I went to Delhi [in 2010] as a youngster and there was barely anyone there. It’s not the same as a World Championships and it’s certainly not the same as an Olympic Games.”
In the same article, published on Wednesday, Kenny said that a “lot of members of the public probably see the Commonwealths as second only to the Olympics but, when you’re actually involved in the sport, it doesn’t seem that way. It gets devalued a bit.”
That evening, Wiggle Honda rider Trott took to Facebook to elaborate on some of the comments she had made in the interview.
In her post, which has subsequently been deleted, she said: “I am extremely excited about racing at the Commonwealth Games. With it being in Glasgow it will feel like another home games, which I think will be an amazing experience for all involved. I love racing my bike and I love racing and it's what I'm most passionate about."
While countries with strong track cycling squads such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand will be present in Glasgow, others such as Germany and France that challenge for medals at the Olympics and World Championships but aren’t members of the Commonwealth will be missing.
Trott went on: “In other sports the competition is extremely strong. I was just talking about the sport of cycling and I was not criticising the Commonwealth Games in any way at all. It is a fantastic event.
“The importance of it to each individual however, will depend on their sport and sometimes the discipline. Either way, we are being invited to represent our countries so it is always an honour.
“The other aspect to this is that our sport’s funding is not determined by what we achieve at the Commonwealths. That is purely based around worlds and Olympics.
“Funding for our sport is vital as I'm sure anyone can appreciate. To be completely clear - we were not talking about the money we get as individuals.
“I fully understand that for some people, the Commonwealth Games is huge and when I look back to when I got selected for Delhi it was huge for me too.
“It was a massive deal but then you realise that UK Sport funding is not determined on this. So there is less funding to go towards training camps and to keep our programmes going.”
At the Commonwealth Games, riders who would ride for Great Britain at World Championships or Olympic Games instead ride for their home nation – Trott and Kenny for England, for example, David Millar for Scotland, Mark Cavendish for the Isle of Man or Becky James for Wales.
A spokeperson for British Cycling told the Daily Mail: “British Cycling is a whole-hearted supporter of the Commonwealth Games, not only because of the pride our riders take in competing for the home nations but also because of the inspirational effect they have in encouraging more people to get active through cycling.
“The National Cycling Centre is a living example of that, although it wasn’t built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, the success of the cycling programme in Manchester helped establish the sport with a new audience.
“Now, not only has the Manchester Velodrome helped produce Tour de France winners and Olympic and Paralympic champions but it is also busy every day with people just enjoying getting on their bikes.
“Although we are judged most keenly on our results at Olympic and Paralympic Games, performances at World Championships are very important. All our riders give maximum effort when competing because they are representing their country and because we like to win.”
Trott also expanded on comments she made about the Le Tour Entier campaign led by riders including Marianne Vos and Emma Pooley to introduce a women’s version of the Tour de France.
She told the Daily Mail that she supports La Course de la Tour, the women’s race that Tour de France organsisers ASO are staging in Paris on the final day of the men’s event this July, but does not agree with efforts to lobby for a three-week race.
“I just don’t think it would be realistic,” she said. “We ride a tour for five days and at the end of it we’re completely knackered. For three weeks – no chance. I certainly wouldn’t finish, put it that way.”
Kenny added, “There’d be deaths,”
Trott added on Facebook: “I know it’s not how everyone sees it but it's an opinion I have. I know I am a track rider and I don't/can't ride as far as a lot of the top women road riders. I have huge admiration for them and what they can and do achieve. For me I would love to see a women's Tour.
“But I think it has to start in a certain way and let it build into something huge. I think saying that it should be 3 weeks and the same distance as the men is unrealistic and could have a negative effect on the sport. If it is seen to be boring then viewing figures may drop and all important sponsorship may become hard to find?
“However if it is run something like the Women’s Tour that we’ve just had in Britain, then it could work very well. I personally think it should be staged over 10 days to begin with and built from there. We could even have a test run of longer stages and a longer race at say a race like the Giro, which we already have. But I also think that this isn’t the only way of growing women's cycling and that there will be some great ideas out there. I just didn’t agree with some of the ideas being put forward.
“I love the sport of cycling dearly and that is why I care about it so much and have opinions on it. The fact that these opinions were misinterpreted and then sensationalised is upsetting and frustrating in equal measure,” she added.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.