As Ed Clancy prepares for what will be his final Olympics, the three-time team pursuit gold medallist has one eye on what comes next.
In between the training camps and track sessions which dominate Clancy’s time with 50 days to go until the rearranged Games, the Yorkshireman is continuing to grow the Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy he founded with ex-pro Graham Briggs.
As British Cycling puts its weight behind the Everyone Wins campaign to reboot grassroots events hit by the pandemic, Clancy believes the Academy’s work has never been more important.
“I think I will probably continue to race my bike a little bit after Tokyo but I’m 36 now, I’m not going to go on forever,” Clancy told the PA news agency.
“Maybe I’m biased but I think cycling is the best sport in the world. I don’t think there’s anything like it where there’s that interaction between man and machine.”
British Cycling said that 4,500 grassroots events were lost to the pandemic. Even as lockdown restrictions ease, huge challenges remain in terms of gaining permissions and sorting logistics.
But Clancy is sure that, at a time when bike shops struggle to keep up with demand for kit, the appetite for more events is strong.
“Maybe I’m being too optimistic but I really think coronavirus has opened our eyes to the need and benefits of being physically and mentally healthy,” he added.
“It’s fair to say people who were somewhat active pre-corona, generally speaking, came through it better.
“Traffic problems and environmental problems aren’t going anywhere, so I think there’s more reasons than ever for people to be cycling.”
After helping to launch the campaign, Clancy was back in the velodrome on Thursday to start another three-week training block.
Big questions remain about what Great Britain can achieve in Tokyo in the men’s team pursuit, an event they have dominated since Bradley Wiggins, Geraint Thomas, Paul Manning and Clancy swept to gold at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
At last year’s world championships Britain were almost four seconds off Denmark’s gold-medal winning time – an age in the discipline.
“I think we’re on the right path but it’s no secret anymore – it’s fair to say we’re not out-and-out favourites,” Clancy said.
“One team in particular out there is doing a really good job, and I think at least three others are as well and it’s going to be very, very tight for the medals.
“I can’t give too much away in numbers, but we’ve definitely made progress. Is it good enough to win? I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see.”
Like any athlete, Clancy has to push continuing question marks over the fate of the Games to one side.
“When you’re an athlete all your focus is really on the intricacies of the event,” he said.
“All I’m thinking about is doing a 12.5 on the opening lap and then a 7.3 and a 6.9, I’m thinking about where I’m making a change on the bank, the fundamentals of riding a team pursuit.”
Clancy has long been referred to as the big brother of this team pursuit squad, at least 10 years older than the six other contenders for selection bar Kian Emadi, 28.
But it is a role he has ultimately embraced.
“I don’t mind hanging out with the TikTok generation at all,” he said with a laugh. “What I would say is I’ve never been with a team that’s been more committed. The youngsters are not interested in nights out and chasing around and all that. They’re committed.
“Training hard, eating well, they love riding their bikes and they’re desperate to go as fast as they can and bring back some medals. I guess that’s the goal – eat right, sleep right, train right and ultimately we’ll get the best result we’re capable of because of that.”