Watson reflects on i-Team heroes in 2016

Joe Truman, left, has had a tremendous year on the track. Picture: British Cycling
Joe Truman, left, has had a tremendous year on the track. Picture: British Cycling
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i-Team founder Guy Watson looks back on track glory for Jon Dibben and Joe Truman, Rio heartbreak for Dani King and the death of legend John Hayles.

Watson on JON DIBBEN...

John Hayles in action at a packed Alexandra Park velodrome

John Hayles in action at a packed Alexandra Park velodrome

Jon moved on from i-Team to Hargroves as a junior and, in the back of my head, that was a major factor in starting our race team this year.

It was a good move for Jon at the time.

He was with i-Team for five years as a youth and won a massive number of national titles and national medals.

But we couldn’t compete with other junior race teams at that time. Now we can.

We still follow his career now.

What I liked about his World Championship points race win in London in March was you could tell he only had two or three efforts left.

It was a very intelligent, calculated ride.

He knew there were two sprints left and if he won them, he would take the jersey.

I am glad it all came off. I was just so pleased for him.

He is a fantastic guy. I still see his parents and, considering the amount of effort they put it, it is great for them, too.

And now he is preparing for his first season at Team Sky.

It is really exciting. He excels in cobbled races, so he could be a northern classics rider for them.

But I wouldn’t put it past him being a very useful sprinter or important lead-out man.

I don’t think he will be going back to the team car collecting many bottles, put it that way!

I really hope everything goes right for him and he gets what he deserves.

He is a mega-talented rider and I think he will have a blast in 2017.

Watson on JOE TRUMAN...

Joe is really interesting. In terms of his times, he is ahead of the curve of the likes of Sir Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny.

It is quite frightening what he could achieve.

I really think he will be the best sprinter we’ve ever had.

Whether he will equal their gold medal hauls, I’m not sure that will be possible.

But once he gets there, he is going to be the type of rider who dominates in match sprints.

I think British Cycling have done a really good job with him.

They recognised quickly what makes him a great sprinter is not his maximum power, it is the power he can deliver at 160rpm.

They left the weight training and all of that quite late.

Everything has been very incremental in terms of upping the gears and the power, so he has kept that fantastic cadence.

He hasn’t lost any of his leg speed despite upping the power. It sounds simple but that is the hardest thing to do.

He won two World Cup golds and silver in the European Championships in the team sprint this year.

But he remains a proud member of i-Team, I have a speedsuit on order for him to wear in open events and he still turns up at our awards nights.

You can’t underestimate the buzz that creates. And that is full credit to Joe. He is a great young man.

Watson on DANI KING...

Just like Jon Dibben, Dani has done everything asked of her.

When Dani was with i-Team, she got on the national talent team and they decided she was going to be a sprinter.

Had they spoken to her and looked at the numbers, they would have realised she is a fabulous track endurance rider.

She won gold in 2012 before switching to the road ahead of Rio.

And I couldn’t see what more she could have done to make the team for Brazil this summer.

I don’t know the politics of it – I try to stay away from all that stuff because it leaves me cold.

But she had totally dedicated herself to what she was asked to do.

Dani has had two or three serious knockbacks but, I tell you what, she is a fighter.

I think she sees if you produce the results on the track, it is very cut and dried. It is very decisive.

I’d love to see her get back into the team pursuit or maybe become an omnium rider.

Team pursuiters are often more experienced, riding for thousands of hours just to gain that last one per cent of technique.

Dani is always going to have that. I just hope she gets into the team for Tokyo.

To think we could have Dani King, Joe Truman and Jon Dibben at Tokyo! Any one of those would be good.

Watson on JOHN HAYLES...

It was so sad to learn of John Hayles’ death this year.

At his funeral, there was a really interesting mix of his wrestling colleagues, the cyclists, friends and family.

It was a very fitting send off and there were some great anecdotes told.

What a life!

John is going to be one of those guys who you keep finding new things about.

Rob didn’t even realise until recently he had a modelling career!

He was just one of those guys who everybody loved.

If you could judge a life by the amount of people who respected a person, he would be off the scale.

For i-Team as a club, he was great. You name it, he had been through it at a race somewhere.

He was a big presence, a big personality and when he held you up on the line, well, it was something special.

The link with the cycling community and what it was like in the 50s was great. You see the pictures of Alexandra Park back then, with huge crowds, and think how great it would be to get those times back.

He came from that era and had that experience.

You can’t replace that. It is difficult to describe but he will be a big loss. A big, big loss.