Ahead of the World Track Championships next month, and looking ahead to this Summer’s Women’s Tour, Brendan Gallagher caught up with Olympic Champion Laura Trott for a chat.

SIX global titles, five European Championship golds and still only 21. Occasionally you have to revisit the Laura Trott phenomenon because there is a distinct danger of taking her for granted and losing sight of her true genius under the blizzard of statistics, medals and awards. You could be forgiven for thinking that it’s all down to a once in a generation God-given talent but this is one of the hardest working, most dedicated ‘athletes’ you will ever encounter who lives for her sport and not the rewards which in any case are still modest compared with many others, mostly of lesser sporting accomplishments.

Outwardly she hasn’t missed a beat since London 2012 but we only ever see the tip of the iceberg. Unseen, the work has been relentless as she seeks to maintain an extraordinary level of success as she now becomes the rider to beat every time she takes to the track.

Trott is just back from a gruelling week long road camp with Great Britain in Majorca – “short sharp and one of the hardest ever” – and she headed straight for the Manchester Velodrome on landing to fine tune her preparations for the UCI World Track Championships which start in Cali, Columbia next month. Other projects on the horizon include the inaugural Women’s Tour in May and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer when she will be attempting a hat-trick of gold medals on the track – Points, Scratch and Individual Pursuit – and then riding for Lizzie Armitstead in the road race. It’s more than enough to be gettting on with.

“I’m actually feeling just about the best I have ever felt on a bike over the last few months, I’m enjoying everything about the sport and lifestyle and that weight of expectation has gone” says Trott who will, as usual, be doubling up in Cali with the Women’s Team Pursuit and the multi-event Omnium. “Looking back it was a bit difficult after the 2012 Olympics because for a while you are always ‘Double Olympic champion Laura Trott’ everywhere you go, which is why I was quite glad I trained through the winter and went to the World Championships in Minsk last year despite all the distractions, which I am not saying I didn’t enjoy but it was beginning to become quite tiring. I wasn’t particularly happy with my form in Minsk but GB won the Team Pursuit gold and I battled hard to get silver in the Omnium behind Sarah Hammer but the main thing was that I had completed another major Championships, I was moving onto the next chapter and the London 2012 experience was officially over. Life started to return to normal again after that.

“So since then it has been business as usual, getting used to the new Women’s Team Pursuit with an extra rider and an extra four laps, a bit of road racing with Wiggle Honda and trying to improve my bunch racing for the Omnium which is such a competitive event. I won the European Championship Omnium and the World Cup meet in Manchester but I won then while doing a few things wrong and that showed up at the second World Cup meeting in Aguascalientes in Mexico at the end of last year. I had a bad scratch raced there finishing tenth with Sarah Hammer first and Sarah beat me by seven points to win the Gold medal. It really concentrated in my mind, again, where I have to improve. I’d been getting away with it, always finding a way to win, but you can’t go on doing that.

“I suppose it’s still really down to experience. In the Elimination race I find riding in the bunch so much easier because the task is simple, as long as you are always going forward, as long as you are always overtaking at least one other rider you will stay in the competition. There is a set task and I can concentrate all my thoughts to getting that right but in the Scratch and Points Race there is so much more to think about with having to concentrate on the big hitters trying to get away for a lap. You have to get the feel for it and I need to race those events more.”

At the World’s next month all eyes will be initially on the Team Pursuit after a GB squad – for once not including Trott who was enjoying a well deserved day off- smashed the world record twice in a day with an eye-popping time of 4.16.552 seconds at Aguascalientes. Great Britain, with Trott on board, had also broken the world record at the European Championships and the Manchester World Cup, but she believes they may have reached a little plateau and there might now be a brief pause before the record goes plunging downward again.

“You never say never because as a squad we are getting stronger and quicker and the Worlds are the Worlds but that time at Aguascalientes could well still for a while, it right off the scale. The track was just crazily quick there, the guys were crashing in the Keirin becuase they had never travelled so fast and were misjudging things and I found it was easy to overcook the corners and find yourself not quite in control as you come out. It was just purely down to the altitude I suppose because although it was nice and warm in the day it was really cold at night, down to 11-12 degrees.

“It will be very different in Cali from what I remember riding there in a World Cup a few years ago. The track is not the quickest and although the velodrome has a roof it’s open around the sides and exposed to the weather which is normally pretty nice. I do seem to recall though riding into a strong headwind down the back straight which is never going to help your times much. To be honest we don’t really consider our times recently as world records, we look on them as world best performances. We have been pleased with the rides but we know it is a very new event and of course the times will tumble down almost every time you ride competitively. Some teams like Australia haven’t even put their strongest squad together yet. It’s early days.

“For myself I haven’t noticed a huge difference because I always tended to do lap and half turns in the 3km and now I’m still doing lap and half turns but getting a bit more time in the wheels to recover. My feeling, and the splits seem to back this up, is that basically we are going the same speed at the front as we did when breaking those world records over 3km at the 2012 Olympics but the difference is that we are now going at that speed for 4km! Once we have really worked the event out and the extra endurance work we have been doing kicks in I am pretty sure the times will start heading down again. Just possibly not at Cali.”

After the world’s and quick break Trott will be turning to road riding for a while as she learns her trade with Wiggle Honda with her main objective being the inaugural Women’s Tour in May: At Wiggle her designated role is to work as a domestique for former world champion and GC rider Giorgia Bronzini and team founder and sprinter Rochelle Gilmore.

“I have a completely different mindset between Track and Road. Track will always be my first love, it will always be my priority, and I train and ride for gold. On the road I really enjoy and it is helping to improve my endurance it but I am there to work for others, mainly Giorgia. It’s a role I enjoy and I learned loads last summer when I was able to ride for the team.

“The Women’s Tour has to be my main aim this summer along with the Commonwealth Games. It’s such a great idea and I can’t believe the organisers have managed to turn it around so quickly and get it started in 2014. When we first heard the talk about it last autumn I think everybody thought ‘what a great idea but surely that won’t happen until 2015 at the earliest’ so it has been a fantastic effort by the organisers to step up and make sure it happens in 2014

“It makes so much sense to me. Given how well Britain’s women cyclists have done on the road in recent years why wouldn’t you have a prestigious home race. Olympic Gold in 2008 with Nicole Cooke and Olympic Silver four years later with Lizzie Armitstead, not many sports can top that. London 2012 showed how much enthusiasm there is for the sport if you can just get something laid on and organised. If half the people who turned up at my parents place after I won those Golds in London to help us celebrate, well that would be a pretty decent sized crowd on it’s own.

“People are just looking for an excuse to go out there and support our cyclists, Britain is still falling in love with the sport. The Women’s Tour could well blow people away in my opinion. There are some good races on the continent but it’s just too difficult and expensive to go and support British riders but now everything will be on our doorstep for five days. It’s easy viewing and a nice day out. 

“Stage Four on the Saturday could be pretty special for going from my home town of Cheshunt to Welwyn Garden city where I first got into the sport at the banked track at Gosling Stadium. There will be some great memories and perhaps I might be able to ride for the stage win that day!”

Trott can rest easy on that one and although she harbours modest ambitions as a road racer she is well capable of being ultra-competitive on a flat stage with a sprint finish and a home crowd roaring her on. A busy old year awaits but it takes no giant leap of imagination to see one possible highlights being a tear-up down the finishing straight between Trott, Queen of the Track, and Marianne Vos, one of the greatest women road riders in history.