Olympic champion Joanna Rowsell admits this year’s European Track Championships will be like no other that she has contested – but that doesn’t mean she is taking her eyes off the prize with Rio firmly in her sights.
The 2014 European Track Championships are taking place in the Caribbean – in French-owned Guadeloupe – but that is far from the only change from recent years.
Not only does the track not have a roof but it is also made out of concrete rather than the normal wood, meaning that if a tropical storm hits then rain and wind could cause havoc.
However, Rowsell is not about to hit the panic button, arriving in Guadeloupe looking to claim a hat-trick of European team pursuit titles after her 2011 and 2013 triumphs.
And with the competition marking the first opportunity to score Olympic qualification points towards Rio, Rowsell is not about to let anything stand in her way.
“It’s a significant week because this is the first event that carries qualifying points for the 2016 Olympic Games, so the road to Rio effectively starts here,” she wrote in a blog for Sky Sports.
“It’s also going to be an interesting few days because of the track out here, which is unlike anything I’ve ever come across before.
“To begin with, it has no roof and is fully open, and then there’s the fact it's 333m long (as opposed to the conventional 250m).
“Next, and this is the most interesting part, the track itself is made out of concrete, not wood, and finally, it’s tropical storm season over here, so there’s a good chance of rain while we’re racing. All in all, it’s going to be quite an experience.
“All that said, I’m really looking forward to the championships. I have to admit, I’m not on top form because I peaked for the Commonwealth Games in July and I’m planning to peak again for the world championships in February, and you can’t peak all the time, so you have to have periods where your form dips and I’m in one of those now.”
© Sportsbeat 2014