The Great Britain women’s team pursuit squad can match times set by some men’s squads according to Olympic gold medallist Dani King.
Talking to What’s the Story on Sky Sports, King said that she thinks her coach Shane Sutton’s target of somewhere between 4min 7sec and 4min 10sec “is an achievable target”.
To put that time into context, the women’s record-breaking time at the World Cup in Manchester last weekend was 4min 19sec; almost ten seconds slower than Sutton’s target.
The times that Sutton is speculating would have seen his women battling with Switzerland’s men for 11th place at the UCI Track World Championships earlier in the year, and falling just short of the South Koreans in 10th at last year’s Olympic Games.
The idea that Sutton’s squad can shave around ten seconds off their world record is not out of the question.
Earlier this year a rule change to the women's pursuit saw the number of riders increase from three to four and the distance from 3,000km to 4,000km.
From November 2009 to the Olympics in 2012, before the rule change, the three-strong Team GB pursuit squad improved on their time by nine seconds.
So, it seems likely that in a race that is longer, with more team members, the room for improvement is greater.
But the magnitude of Sutton’s challenge is not lost on King, who was part of the pursuit squad that won gold at the Games in London last year.
She said: "It’s going to be tough, but I remember when they gave us a target for London [2012 Olympic Games] and we all said there is no way we will do that, and we ended up going quicker than the target that was set.
Following the rule change, belief in the ability of the women’s squad has grown. Sir Dave Brailsford, talking to The Guardian, after the women’s squad’s world record performance in Manchester last weekend described the rule change as "the dream scenario".
"[The rule change] has killed off some nations – they just don't have the depth.” The cycling mastermind said. “We were very happy with the change. We have that squad. You need, in any event, to be looking over your shoulder, making sure your position is safe. You can't coach that, that upward pressure."
Brailsford went on to laud King and her pursuit team, calling them the “star act in many respects, for the last four years”.
But King said that she isn’t losing sight of the task at hand: "We have performance targets at world cups, world championships, we have got the Commonwealth Games next year, and it will be a case of rubbing the time off gradually.
"I think it is about not getting too fixated on that time. It is all about focusing on our own performance and then, hopefully, the outcome of a perfect performance will be a world record.
“We have got a long way to go with this event - we have only just started really.”