ABERGAVENNY cycling ace Becky James admits her tremendous success at the Track World Cup is a new career highlight.
The 20-year-old jets out to Australia today with her teammates including Jess Varnish and Olympic hero Laura Trott for an intensive endurance training camp ahead of next February’s World Championships in Belarus.
However, James warmed up for the sunnier climes of Perth with landmark success at the Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow last weekend.
A gold medal with Varnish in the team sprint – in which James achieved a personal best time – and a bronze in the individual sprint further strengthening her credentials as the long-term successor to Victoria Pendleton.
James has now fully transitioned from junior prospect to serious hope for medals in Rio in 2016 and she admits the thrill of succeeding in Glasgow is a new high.
"I think that’s probably my best achievement to date, to win a gold medal at home in the UK and at senior level, it’s been a long time coming," she told the Argus.
"It’s very tough going, making the step up from junior to senior level and success like this shows me and others that I’m making good progress."
James will likely compete with her close friend and team sprint partner Varnish for a spot in the individual sprint and keirin over the coming years, but insists she doesn’t prioritise one event over any other.
"All of the events are more key targets, I pride myself on being an all-rounder," she said.
"Jess and I have been friends for a long time and off the track we are great mates but when we are in competition, we quickly forget that!
"I’m hopefully making good progress with all three events, but it’s a case of improving more depending on whether you are getting race time.
"The keirin especially is a very tactical event and we don’t get as much race experience as we’d like, but that’s why it’s vital to take the chance when it comes."
James is one of the new leading lights of British cycling alongside other youngsters like Olympic medallists Trott and Jason Kenny.
However, she admits it’s still somewhat strange to be training without icons such as Hoy and Pendleton.
"Everyone in the Team GB squad is very close, but what’s nice is that it’s a young team and competitors like (Cardiff school girl) Elinor Barker are putting down markers and riding amazingly," she said.
"But by the same token it’s really strange not to have the likes of Chris and Vicky around any more. They’ve done so much to raise the profile of our sport."
James has no doubts whatsoever as to who her go-to person is in times of adversity.
"Chris Hoy has been great with me in the past, he’s a brilliant person to go to for advice because he’s been there and done it all," she said.
"I am already missing him in training sessions, but it was lovely for him to be at the Track World Cup.
"He’s just an inspirational person for everyone in the team."