Coach Justin Grace may have mixed emotions when the sprinters line up to fight for the rainbow jersey at the UCI Track World Championships in Paris next week.
By
Cycling Central

7 Apr 2015 - 5:20 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:35 PM

The New Zealander, a former masters world champion himself, is the British Cycling sprint coach, a position that came by way of roles with the New Zealand and French cycling federations.

Grace was the mastermind behind the New Zealand sprint program that went from zero to hero in a few short years.

But it wasn't Grace who was celebrating last year when Kiwis Sam Webster, Ethan Mitchell and Eddie Dawkins claimed gold in the team sprint at the UCI Track World Championships in Colombia. Instead it was his replacement former Australian MotoGP coach Anthony Peden who had guided the trio to victory against Germany.

Grace was there to witness the ride though, with the Kiwis claiming gold moments after his new French team won the bronze medal.

A year on and Grace will be wearing the red, blue and white of British Cycling at next week's world championships in Saint-Quentin-En-Yvelines, France.

After a tough 18 months in France, where Grace struggled to coach comprehensively with language difficulties, he was lured across the channel to become part of British Cycling.

Grace has described it as a 'strange twist of fate' to be coaching Great Britain at the world championships in France.

"I actually have a Harry Potter style magic wand, hand carved out of a piece of the Paris track," Grace told Velo Veritas.

"It was a parting gift from someone there. I may not have magic but we will be working hard to perform well there."

While his former Kiwi riders, who he guided from their teenage years, will go in as defending team sprint champions, Grace notes that there are 'four of five nations capable of winning the team sprint on the day." Three of those he would have coached in the past three years.

Grace is confident that his allegiances won't be torn should Great Britain face off against the Kiwis.

"I think that now enough water has passed under the bridge for me to not have any mixed emotions.

"I really respect those guys and the team for what they have done.

"However, my job is here and I am 100 per cent committed to the Great Britain team. Anyone we line up against is there to be beaten. End of story."

Olympic gold medallist Jason Kenny leads the Britain sprint team for the championships alongside Philip Hindes, Kian Emadi and Callum Skinner.

Australia's sprint chances are in good hands with 2012 world champion Matthew Glaetzer posting the fastest Flying 200m on Australian soil in history at last month's national championships.

Shane Perkins receives his ninth selection, with the 2011 and 2012 world champion to be joined by three debutants in newly crowned keirin national champion Jacob Schmid, and 2014 Commonwealth Games representatives Peter Lewis (NSW) and Nathan Hart.

SBS will broadcast the UCI Track World Championships live on SBS2 and online at Cycling Central.