Bring on the Olympics – Thomas


My world champion’s rainbow jersey is hanging up alongside Ed Clancy’s above the beds in our Melbourne hotel room.

This is a massive result for us as a team. It’s been a long while since we last won at the World Championships; the Aussies have had the better of us for the last few years. Even though this year is all about the Olympics and this is just a stepping-stone towards that, it’s still great to have come here and won.

We now have a strategy that means it will always be touch-and-go whether we can hold it together or not for the full duration of the race. We are definitely on the edge, every time. As you saw, we came off the pace a lot in our last lap but we learnt a lot from that.

Rainbow jerseys hanging in hotel room

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Ed and Pete Kennaugh were completely spent towards the end and I maybe should have carried on going more than I did. I thought I was dying but Ed was already dead, he had no life left. Little things like that are good to go through now, even straight after a victory like this one. But to hang on and win with a world record was extra-special.

The first time we broke that world record, at the World Championships in Manchester before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, was just as amazing.

We broke our own record twice in Beijing later that year, but in Beijing we knew we were going to do it. We expected that to happen. In Manchester that wasn’t the case, and definitely not here. Only in the last few days of training did we realise we were travelling well and might just get close to it.

The thing is, it had been a pretty relaxed day. With qualifying not until around 4.30pm local time, we were up at 8.30 that morning, doing a bit on the turbo, a little warm-up at around 10am, a pre-race meal and then down to the track.

Our qualifying ride was two seconds faster than we’ve ever qualified before – the fastest qualifying time ever – and that was great for our confidence. Even though the Australians qualified just two tenths of a second behind us, we were still confident we would deliver in the final.

It was interesting how the Australian crowd inside the Hisense Arena were pretty much non-existent during our qualifying ride. That seemed a lot different to the way it was in London at the Track World Cup two months ago, when every team seemed to get cheered. But we love that rivalry.

Having beaten us in London, they really bigged this race up in the Aussie press. We were relaxed after qualifying, though. We knew we would improve on that London performance – we said as much straight after that race in February – so we spent the next couple of hours, between qualifying and the final, chilling out.

We had a meeting where our coach Shane Sutton went through some changes, and the decision was made to bring Andy Tennant out of the line-up in favour of Steven Burke. We had seen the split times from qualifying and Andy was coming off it a bit, he could accept that and see the evidence. It was the right decision to make, but obviously hard for him: he wanted to ride in the final, as everyone did. Nobody’s place in this team is secure, except Ed, because he’s so good at that start.

Getting onto that start line, you block everything out. And from there, all you can hear is the crowd going nuts one lap, then dead silent the next, then nuts again, and so on. It’s not hard to guess when the Aussies are up, and when you’re up.

It was a good half a lap after we crossed the line that I knew the result. When we finished I couldn’t see the scoreboard so I watched an Aussie rider in front of me – I don’t know which one – waiting for his reaction and listening for the crowd.

When I heard that collective sigh and saw the Aussie drop his head, I knew we’d got it. What an amazing feeling it is, an excitement I haven’t felt in a while. For it to be so close, then to win and to ride a world record lifts all that pressure that had been building and building since November.

London was tough, having them beat us as convincingly as they did, but we turned it around in probably the most exciting race I’ve ever been involved in – especially when I watched it back to see how close it was, because at the time we didn’t really know. To deal with that pressure and deliver what we wanted was amazing. Doing it in Australia’s back yard is the icing on the cake.

We can’t wait for the Olympics now. This result has made us even hungrier. I believed we could close the gap and beat Australia, but it’s one thing to believe that and another to come out and do it. Not only that, the next period is where we made a big leap forward in 2008 ahead of the Beijing Games. We have to do that again.

Winning in Melbourne reinforces the confidence and self-belief we need, and we are all gunning for London 2012. It can’t come quickly enough.



Chris Hoy learned on girl's bike


Sir Chris Hoy

Image caption

Sir Chris Hoy is a four-time Olympic champion

Cyclist Sir Chris Hoy’s first bicycle was a girl’s bike, the Olympic gold medallist’s mother has revealed.

Sir Chris, 36, a four-time Olympic champion who won three golds at the 2008 Beijing Games, got the second-hand bike from his neighbour.

His mother, Carol Hoy, said he broke the bike “very quickly” so had to get a new one.

She said she thinks it is “mad” he earns his living by riding a bike but said she is very proud of him.

Mrs Hoy said: “His first ever bike was a girl’s bike, handed over by a neighbour.

“I don’t think he realised it was a girl’s bike at the time. He managed to break that very quickly which perhaps meant he’d like a new one.”

His Olympic titles are “very, very proud moments” but Carol Hoy added: “Then I was proud of him when he won the egg-and-spoon race when he was a wee boy as well. So I’m just a boring mum who loves her kids.”

Chris Hoy is considered one of Britain’s biggest medal hopes for London 2012.

Mrs Hoy’s view of her son’s success forms part of eight short documentary-style films, commissioned by Olympic sponsor Procter and Gamble.

Each tells the story of raising a world-class athlete.

Mrs Hoy recalled: “I think it does seem mad to earn your living from riding a bike, but it’s what makes him happy.”

Edinburgh-born Sir Chris got his first BMX bike when he was about eight or nine.

Mrs Hoy said: “I thought he was going to cry with happiness when we took him to the shop, he was so excited, thrilled.”



GB success will continue – Clancy

GB Sprint team

British cyclists will continue to deliver Olympic success even if Dave Brailsford gives up day-to-day control of the team, says GB rider Ed Clancy.

Brailsford combines his role as GB performance director with his position running Team Sky and could focus solely on the latter after London 2012.

“It will be hard to replace him if he goes,” said Clancy.

“[But] he’s doing great things with Team Sky and if he wants to go there will be no hard feelings from us.”

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Brailsford ‘miffed’ other teams can try track at World Cup

Clancy believes Brailsford, who joined British Cycling as a consultant in the late 1990s and now has responsibility for the entire team, would leave a lasting legacy.

“He’s already done us a massive favour over the years, and I’m sure the infrastructure he’ll leave behind, if he goes, will be pretty stable and things will carry on,” said Clancy.

“I know the team is funded until 2016, so onwards and upwards.”

Five-time world champion Clancy won his Olympic gold as part of a world record-breaking team-pursuit quartet, and it was one of a remarkable haul of 14 medals claimed by GB in Beijing, including seven golds from 10 events in the velodrome.

This built on impressive returns from the Athens and Sydney Olympics, which helped Great Britain emerge as a cycling superpower.

Brailsford’s part in this made him the obvious choice to manage Sky’s high-profile foray into the competitive world of road cycling.

Now in their third full season, the team can boast the best of British talent in Mark Cavendish, Geraint Thomas and Bradley Wiggins, as well as foreign stars such as Edvald Boasson Hagen and Richie Porte.

Speaking shortly before this month’s World Track Championships in Melbourne, Brailsford hinted for the first time that he can no longer continue to do both jobs to the same high standard.

“The growth of cycling is enormous and there’s only so much I can do in a day,” the 48-year-old said.

“There’s no doubt that with all the responsibilities I have it’s difficult to maintain the same level of detail across the entire programme.

“I think we’re all in agreement that it would make sense for my role, or my job description, to shift slightly, but we’ll review that after the Games.”

This prompted British Cycling’s chief executive Ian Drake to stress that nothing would change until after London 2012, and the link between British Olympic cycling and Team Sky would remain, with Brailsford central to that relationship.

For his part, Clancy is relaxed about any changes that may be made to the management structure, particularly after GB’s fine display in Melbourne, where the team won half of the events that will be staged in the Olympic Velodrome in August.

GB’s victory in the men’s team pursuit was especially significant as it came after a few years that had seen fierce rivals Australia gain the upper hand.

“It was probably the first time that our A team and theirs has come together since Beijing and we beat them,” said the 27-year-old, who is also likely to ride the omnium in London, a multi-discipline event he won at the 2010 World Championships.

“We know we’ve got our work cut out to beat them but it’s great to be trading punches with them again.”

GB success will continue – Clancy


Chris Hoy learned on girl’s bike

Sir Chris Hoy

Image caption

Sir Chris Hoy is a four-time Olympic champion

Cyclist Sir Chris Hoy’s first bicycle was a girl’s bike, the Olympic gold medallist’s mother has revealed.

Sir Chris, 36, a four-time Olympic champion who won three golds at the 2008 Beijing Games, got the second-hand bike from his neighbour.

His mother, Carol Hoy, said he broke the bike “very quickly” so had to get a new one.

She said she thinks it is “mad” he earns his living by riding a bike but said she is very proud of him.

Mrs Hoy said: “His first ever bike was a girl’s bike, handed over by a neighbour.

“I don’t think he realised it was a girl’s bike at the time. He managed to break that very quickly which perhaps meant he’d like a new one.”

His Olympic titles are “very, very proud moments” but Carol Hoy added: “Then I was proud of him when he won the egg-and-spoon race when he was a wee boy as well. So I’m just a boring mum who loves her kids.”

Chris Hoy learned on girl’s bike


Brailsford ponders sprint options

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Kenny beats Hoy in sprint semi

British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford has refused to reveal his selection strategy for the men’s sprint at the 2012 Olympics.

The spot will go to either Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy or Jason Kenny, who won silver at the 2008 Games in Beijing.

“Selecting that team is very difficult,” said Brailsford.

“It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past. Our job is to pick the fastest guy.”

Kenny, 24, beat the 36-year-old Hoy in the semi-final at the Track World Championships in Melbourne, but the Scot, who won gold in a dramatic keirin on Sunday with Kenny in third, has won three of the five sprint meetings between the pair since September.

Regulations permit only one entry per nation per event at the London Games.

The decision does not need to be made until 1200 BST on 3 August, the day before the competition begins, but Hoy would prefer to know sooner if he is to be denied the opportunity to defend one of his Olympic titles.

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Team GB hits heights at Track Worlds

Brailsford explained: “The dilemma is that if you select now the riders know what they are doing and can train a little bit more specifically. The downside is that in 16 weeks anyone’s form might not be the same.

“That is the conundrum – late for form, but early for clarity of purpose.”

Britain won five golds in the Olympic events in Melbourne – half of those on offer – and Brailsford believes his team are on course for a successful performance in August.

“We’ve got more to come,” he added, describing the haul of seven out of 10 Olympic titles on offer in Beijing in 2008 as a “quirk”.

“There’s no reason why we can’t step up again, but then again everybody else is going to improve.

“Form’s going to decide what happens at the Olympics now.”

Brailsford ponders sprint options


Hoy takes audacious keirin gold

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Hoy snatches world keirin title

UCI World Track Cycling Championships 2012

Venue:
Hisense Arena, Melbourne
Date:
4-8 April 2012

Sir Chris Hoy won the men’s keirin world title with a phenomenal last-ditch move in the home straight at the World Track Cycling in Melbourne.

Hoy crowbarred his way between New Zealand’s Simon van Velthooven and eventual silver medallist Maximilian Levy of Germany to grab the gold medal.

The electrifying victory installs Hoy as the clear favourite for the Olympic gold, while Jason Kenny won bronze.

The British team end the Worlds on top of the medal table for Olympic events.

From the 10 events which make up the programme for London 2012, British riders took five gold medals to second-placed Australia’s three.

Wendy Houvenaghel added silver in the individual pursuit, Geraint Thomas combined with Ben Swift for madison silver, and Jess Varnish won bronze in the women’s 500m time trial. None are Olympic races but all four riders are in contention for Olympic selection.

“If this is my last World Championships, and it might be, then what a way to finish,” Hoy told BBC Sport.

While he has long been acknowledged as a master of the keirin, rarely has even the 36-year-old – last year’s world silver medallist – produced such a breathtaking finale.

Boxed in as the six finalists reached the final corner, Hoy swooped down off the banking to take a daring inside line, carving out space between the Kiwi and German riders before reaching the line fractionally ahead of Levy.

Hoy has suffered a disappointing week elsewhere, being disqualified from the team sprint and settling for individual sprint bronze behind Kenny, but he now leaves Australia as a world champion in Olympic year.

“I’d given up – not physically, but I thought the chance of winning had gone by the time I hit the back straight with half a lap to go,” said Hoy.

“Normally I’d go around the outside and put my foot down but I’d lost momentum. It was one last chance – I’ve never gone up the inside before in my life, it’s a real last-chance saloon – I couldn’t believe the door opened and I managed to get through. In some ways I’m very lucky, but very grateful to have won.

“World titles are all special, every single one you remember, but this is particularly special because it’s the last meaningful race I’ll have before the Olympic Games. It’s a great confidence boost and hopefully I’m showing my rivals I can win from any position.”

Kenny initially finished fourth but the relegation of Van Velthooven promoted him to the podium.

Elsewhere, silver for Houvenaghel inside Melbourne’s Hisense Arena is some consolation after she was overlooked for the team pursuit, which is an Olympic race and in which Britain both won gold and set a world record on Thursday.

The 37-year-old won individual pursuit silver behind Rebecca Romero at Beijing 2008 but the event was subsequently dropped from the Olympic programme, leaving the team pursuit her only hope for London 2012.

“Earlier this week I was in two minds whether to do the individual pursuit or not because of the situation that occurred on Thursday [when she was not picked for the team pursuit],” Houvenaghel told BBC Sport.

“I’ve trained so hard with the others and the result the girls got on Thursday was absolutely phenomenal. I would have loved to be part of that but unfortunately didn’t get the chance. [Now] I’m a little bit less frustrated.

“It’s not over yet, I’m very much in the hunt [for Olympic selection]. I won’t be stepping aside or making it easy for any of the others.”

Anna Meares set a new world record of 33.010 seconds in the time trial to win gold for Australia. Varnish finished almost a second back in third place despite clocking her own personal best of 33.999.

Team pursuit world champion Thomas and scratch race gold medallist Swift concluded Britain’s involvement at the World Championships in the men’s madison, finishing second with 18 points to victorious Belgium’s 24.

Swift has won a gold and two silver medals, all in non-Olympic events, as he fights to join Thomas in the team pursuit for London 2012.

The squad for the Olympics is set to be announced in June but it is possible that the precise GB line-up for individual events may not be made public until the Games are under way.

Hoy takes audacious keirin gold