Sir Chris Hoy has said that press stories about him being a mentor in a forthcoming edition of TV talent show The X Factor are "the first I've heard about it." Hoy was said to be one of four Olympic champions lined up to appear as ,theshow seeks to fight plunging audience ratings – and another star said to be involved, Bradley Wiggins, seems to have poured cold water on rumours that he will be taking part.
The Daily Record reported that Hoy, together with Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Wiggins, had been recruited to mentor would-be pop stars in a special edition of the show to be screened next month.
But Hoy took to Twitter this morning to say: "Some amusing stories in press about me being a mentor on X-Factor; that's the first I've heard about it! #dontbelievethehype!"
The season launch on Saturday saw ratings plummet compared to previous years, and the recruitment of the stars of London 2012 could be viewed as an attempt by producers to harness an 'Olympic factor' to try and stop the rot.
The newspaper says that Hoy is exploring options for a career outside cycling once he retires, most likely after the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
The six-time Olympic champion has already confirmed that he will not compete in November’s UCI Track Cycling World Cup Classics event at the new velodrome in Glasgow that bears his name.
The cyclist’s spokesman, Rob Woodhouse, commented: “He’s just had the Olympics and is taking an extended break. He’s putting his feet up and weighing up his future.”
Publicist Max Clifford, who after the Beijing Games helped Hoy line up sponsorship deals with Highland Spring and BT that are thought to be valued in the region of £2 million, said “He is to cycling what Simon Cowell is to TV music talent.”
According to the Daily Record, it cost a total of £1 million to secure the services of the Olympic stars for the show, with a source connected to the programme saying: “Producers were jumping up and down with delight when all four Team GB stars agreed to do the show” - although given that Hoy at least had never heard of the idea, that claim should perhaps be taken with a pinch of salt.
Meanwhile Wiggins, quoted on Mail Online yesterday, said: “Let's not talk about the X Factor. Compared to the Olympics - everywhere you went the country was on a high and as athletes it was phenomenal to see that.
“Then you see X Factor and it's like, ‘Oh God, everyone's got to put up with that all winter now’.”
If ratings for Saturday’s launch show are anything to go by, fewer people will be putting up with it in the months ahead than in previous years, however.
The audience of 8.1 million was more than a quarter down on last year’s season opener, and the lowest since the show was launched in 2006, reports BBC News.
Lord Coe recently said that the show represented the antithesis of the years of dedication that result in an athlete being able to compete in the Olympics.
“It identifies talent, but it encourages people to think you can be a celebrity in six hours,” he claimed.
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.