Great Britain – for so long one of cycling’s poor relations, the quaint amateurs from across the water next to the sleek professionals of continental Europe – face a new challenge as they prepare for the start of the track World Championships in Manchester.
Where previously they had been also-rans to the French, Italians, Belgians and Germans, and where the gold medal won by Jason Queally at the Sydney Olympics seemed like a minor miracle, now the battle is in squashing expectations.
And, after last year’s Worlds brought seven gold medals, a sense of public deflation will be hard to avoid unless the likes of Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton achieve something similar on home timber.
“It’s a new challenge for us, having to manage expectations externally,” admitted performance director Dave Brailsford.
Starting from Wednesday and going on until Sunday, British spectators – some seeing a cycling contest for the first time – will file into the National Velodrome, comfortably expecting to see local boys and girls do well.
“We want to be on top for the Olympics,” he added. “We’ve got a clear plan and we know what our strategy is for this year.
“And, if some people think we just need to turn up to win, they’ll get a shock.”
It is a view echoed by Hoy, although he will be trying to win a mere three golds this week.
“It’s important for cycling in his country that we do well – and for ourselves – but it’s not the be-all and end-all,” said the Scot.