Back in 1973 “when I were a lad,” Patrick Sercu, during his Brooklyn days, travelled to Mexico in search of what was then the Holy Grail of board track fast men – the sub one minute flying start kilometre.
Sercu cracked the minute but the time was never ratified due to the time keeping not meeting with the UCI’s full approval.
No matter, the barrier was broken and history made.
But in the last World Cup at Aguascalientes, Mexico the ‘Flemish Arrow’s time was finally made to look ordinary as Frenchman Francois Pervis took the kilometre down to 56 seconds – from a standing start.
A remarkable performance.
But in the excitement of a meeting where world records tumbled in the men’s (team sprint opening lap, 200 metres, team sprint and kilometre) and women’s (200 metres, 500 metres, team sprint and team pursuit) events one stunning ride has slipped through without much comment.
GB’s 21 year-old Kian Emadi – another product of British Cycling’s ‘Podium Programme’ which churns out a seemingly endless stream of super-fast track men – confirmed that his fourth place in the world kilometre championship was no flash in the pan with a sub-59 second ride to make him one of the fastest men in history.
Not only that, he was also a member of the GB team which broke the world record in the team sprint, only to see the German squad eclipse their time in dipping below 42 seconds for the first time.
But Emadi had the consolation of a World Cup silver medal to go with his place in history as a sub-minute kilometre man.
The tall man from Stoke-on-Trent took time to speak to VeloVeritas not long after he returned from Mexico.
Are you still just 20 years-old, Kian?
“I’m 21 years-old, now.”
You were fourth at the Worlds (1.1.756); sixth in Mexico (58.933) – which ride gives you most satisfaction and why?
“It’s hard to compare; usually I would go by the time, but altitude skews that, so probably fourth at the Worlds.”
What are the GB ‘super bikes’ like to ride – how much faster than a ‘normal’ machine would you say and what tyres were you on?
“I can’t really say, but the tyres are 19mm Vittorias.”
What gear did you ride?
“I geared up to 110 inches.”
Why was the track so fast?
“The altitude means the air is thinner and so easier to push through, also it was very hot in the velodrome which makes it faster.”
How do you cope with the altitude?
“There’s no real need for sprinters to cope as the efforts we do are short; so don’t really require to acclimatise.
“I just treated it as a normal race.”
In the ‘old days’ in the kilo you went out fast, cruised the mid-section then tried to drive to the line – is it still the same ?
“Yes, pretty much; although every rider has their own style.”
Any “with the benefit of hindsights”?
“Hard to say!”
What do you still need to work on?
“I just need to continue the hard work in training to increase my strength and power.”
What do you think about Pervis’s ride?
“Very impressive, faster than most thought he would go – a crazy time!”
Do you have to go back to Mexico for the next World Cup?
“I’ve already qualified for the Worlds in Cali, so I don’t think I’m going back to Mexico for the final World Cup.”
Can you tell us a little about your training – how much road/track/weight room?
“It’s a mixture of the lot with particular focus on track and gym to increase muscle size and strength.
“A typical week is two gym sessions and three track.”
As well as kilometre and team sprint, you ride a mean keirin, too…
“Yes, and as Chris Hoy and Teun Mulder proved, it’s possible to win both in the kilometre and keirin at world level.”
What about team sprint?
“For me, the team sprint is a big focus – the training programme for it also suits kilometre and keirin riding.”
Who’s your GB rival for the kilometre slot?
“We have plenty of good kilometre riders, Ed Clancy, Matt Crampton and Callum Skinner to name a few.”
A typical day at Manchester?
“A typical day involves riding the 30 minutes commute into the velodrome for a gym session at 10:00.
“Then we have track 14:00 to 17:00.
“Ride home and have dinner, then bed, pretty standard!”
What do you hope to ride at the Worlds – and Commonwealth Games?
“If I could ride team sprint and kilo that would be great, anything else would be a bonus.”
Team sprint silver in Aguascalientes – bitter sweet, a world record but no victory.
“True, although personally I was happy with the ride as it was technically solid and a good effort, and at the end of the day that’s how you improve and can move on to go even faster.”
How much does the training differ for the two disciplines?
“Not much really, both require a strong start, followed by speed and endurance so the training can complement and mesh nicely.”
How tough is the competition to make the GB team?
“It’s very tough, we have a great system which consistently produces top quality riders, and just to make the team is a huge battle.”
Which wheel are you – which do you prefer?
“I usually ride man three in the team sprint, which is my favourite position.”
Were the team sprint rides still in your legs for the kilometre?
“Not really, the race schedule was perfect this time with a day off in between the events.”
What’s the ultimate goal?
“To be an Olympic Champion.”
He has potentially ten years at the top in front of him – another Chris Hoy? Time will tell – meanwhile we wish him ‘all the best for the Worlds in Cali, Colombia come February.