Sir Chris Hoy today won Great Britain's sixth gold medal of the 2012 UCI Track World Championships on the final day of competition in Melbourne with two medals, finding a gap as he came off the final bend in fourth position to nip through and sprint to the line to win the gold medal in the keirin for the fourth time in six years. Earlier, Wendy Houvenaghe had won silver in the women's individual pursuit, while Jess Varish got bronze in the 500 metre time trial. In the final event of the championships, the men’s Madison, teh Great Britain pairing of Geraint Thomas and Ben Swift took silver behind winners Belgium.
During the last lap of the keirin, Hoy seemed to be out of contention, boxed in by fellow British rider Jason Kenny in third place as the six-man field went into the final bend. Desperately trying to find space, Hoy darted down low to the trackside, then back up into space left by second-placed Simon Van Velthooven of New Zealand.
Suddenly, as the riders entered the home straight, there was clear space ahead of Hoy, the reigning Olympic champion in this event, and he powered through the space, overhauling Germany's Maximillian Levy on the line to clinch gold. Van Velthooven held off Kenny to take bronze.
The women’s individual pursuit final saw Houvenaghel line up against former world champion Alison Shanks of New Zealand, the woman who had beaten her in the final of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, when Houvenaghel represented her native Northern Ireland. Today, Shanks imposed herself from the start, stretching her lead out lap after lap over the 3 kilometres and winning by 2.141 seconds.
Three times a world champion in the team pursuit, frustratingly for the 37-year-old Houvenaghel who has put her dentistry career on hold to compete at the highest level, she has never managed to get onto the top step of the podium at world or Olympic level – besides that Beijing silver, she also finished second at the world championships in 2009 and 2010.
With the individual pursuit dropped from the Olympic programme, Houvenaghel’s hopes of a second Olympic medal lie in the team pursuit, which is also arguably Great Britain's strongest event on the track heading to London. She remains part of the four woman squad, whittled down from more than a dozen potential candidates, but missed out on riding in qualifying or the final on Friday when Dani King, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell took gold.
Rowsell posted the sixth fastest time in qualifying today, missing out on a chance to race for a medal. The bronze medal race was an all-Australian affair, with Ashlee Ankudinoff beating Amy Cure.
Anna Meares was the seventh of the 23 starters in the women's 500 metre time trial, reflecting the fact that it's been a while since she took part in the event, but she absolutely tore it apart, bringing the crowd to its feet as she set a new world record of 33.010 seconds. Meares had decided to take part in the event almost as an afterthought, but no-one else was able to come close.
None of the next ten riders got close to the time set by Meares, and while the next rider up, Great Britain's Jess Varnish, was also nearly a second down on Meares, she did manage to get under 34 seconds, albeit by one thousandth of a second. The penultimate rider out, Miriam Wlete of Germany, got inside Varnish's time, posting 33.626 seconds. Only France's Sandie Clair could now deny the Briton a medal, and altough she went off quickly, she soon faded, finishing 8th.
Meares time, Great Britain's Jess Varnish was the , set by home favourite Anna Meares - who incredibly is riding the event almost as an afterthought.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.