Sir Chris Hoy, Great Britain’s most successful Olympian with six gold medals, was guest of honour at the velodrome in Glasgow that bears his name for this weekend’s UCI Track Cycling World Cup Classics in Glasgow. Hoy, taking an extended break from competition post-London 2012, may be on the track in two years’ time when it hosts the Commonwealth Games, but was a spectator over the three day of this competition as Great Britain’s campaign for Rio 2016 got under way in earnest.
There were successes for Great Britain in the women’s events – gold in the team sprint and team pursuit and also for Laura Trott in the omnium, including a typically thrilling victory in the elimination race – but the weekend was largely one of disappointment for the country’s men, with an uncharacteristically high number of crashes.
Hoy took time out from co-presenting the BBC’s coverage on the closing day to answer some questions from organisers, the first of which concerned his advice to those young British riders here eyeing a seat on the plane to Brazil in 2016.
“Nothing changes,” he said. “The youngsters need to try their hardest and always give it their best shot and train hard. First year is about building your confidence on the world stage and building on the experience. The first year is rarely a reflection of how your career will turn out.
Asked if he’s experienced depression following the highs of London 2012, where he won gold in the team sprint and successfully defended the keirin title he had won in Beijing, Hot insisted: “I haven’t had time to experience the post Olympics depression.”
He continued: “I don’t think it is affecting the team. With the mental and physical effort that everyone gives, there is no time to think about the past but focus on the future. Every minute of the day was planned out before the Games so it took some time to adjust to having some free time after London 2012 and the body took a long time to recover too.”
As far as racing is concerned, Hoy remains uncertain about his own future plans. “I’ll make a decision sooner rather than later, by Spring next year,” he explained. “I’ll be getting back into training and racing in January in Australia to see how the body copes.
“I will definitely not be competing at the Worlds as the rest of the guys have been training flat out, especially the younger guys not competing at the Olympics and trying to make the Worlds team.
Asked if he missed competition, he revealed: “After every Olympics, I like to take time off so at this time of year I always miss being on my bike. It’s a weird feeling walking into the Velodrome and not competing and not having the adrenaline and competitive head on and to be here just as a race fan.
“I’m looking forward to getting back into the groove and get back into the routine in Australia. I miss the training as I now have so much spare time and you start feeling terrible and lethargic and run down and I definitely want to get back into some form of exercise and routine. When I eventually retire I will definitely still continue to cycle on my bike and keep exercising because it has been such a large part of my life for so many years.”
Despite that extended pot-Olympic break, Hoy hasn’t stopped training completely, however.
“I’ve been doing one session a week and been trying to squeeze a week’s training into one session to remind the legs of what they’re supposed to be doing and hopefully it won’t take too long to get back into it. If you stop training completely it’s a lot harder to get back into the routine.
“You have to be sensible with your training. You can’t flat out train for four years between the Olympics. If I had trained for the full four years ahead of London 2012 I wouldn’t have made it to the Olympics as you have to make sure you are in peak condition at certain points in the year,” he concluded.
On the track itself, there were triumphs for Great Britain women, contrasting with an unusually high number of crashes that put paid to the home men’s chances in several events.
Double Olympic gold medallist confirmed her post-London 2012 status as the biggest female star in the Great Britain track cycling team, winning the omnium after overhauling a two-point advantage held by Australia’s Ashlee Ankudinoff in the final event, the 500 metre sprint.
On Friday’s opening day of competition in Glasgow, Trott had also featured in the Great Britain trio that continued the country’s domination in the team pursuit, beating Australia in the final. In the event, Trott lined up alongside fellow London 2012 gold medallist Dani King and Elinor Barker, drafted in as a late replacement for Joanna Rowsell.
Following Victoria Pendleton’s retirement, Becky James, 21 later this month, has stepped up to partner Jess Varnish, who celebrates her 22nd birthday on Monday, and the pair followed up their World Cup win in Cali last month by beating Spain’s Tania Calvo and Helena Casas to take gold in Glasgow.
The British pair would also each secure medals in the individual sprint, Varnish taking silver behind Germany’ Kristina Vogel, while James won bronze, but only the latter made the keirin final and finished fifth in a race in which Vogel added her second gold medal of the weekend.
Her compatriot, Stefan Boetticher, went one better in the men’s events, getting gold medals in the team sprint on Friday, the keirin on Saturday then the individual sprint on the final day of competition.
That team sprint victory, in which he was partnered by Robert Förstemann and René Enders, came at the expense of the Great Britain trio of Jason Kenny, Philip Hindes and Ed Clancy, and their silver medal would be the only one of any colour secured by the host nation’s men.
On Friday, a touch of wheels had sent three of the four member of the team pursuit quartet crashing to the boards with the most experienced member of the squad, Andy Tennant needing stitches in his leg. Denmark took gold in the final, beating Germany.
Saturday saw Jason Kenny suffer a nasty looking crash in the keirin final, won by Boetticher, and while there was nothing broken, his bumps and bruises ruled him out of taking part in the individual sprint, the event in which he took his second Olympic gold medal of the London Olympics.
The sole British representative left in that event, Philip Hindes, crashed himself after his front tyre rolled off, and the final ended up being an all-German affair, with Boetticher getting the better of Förstemann.
You can find the full results and news from the weekend’s UCI Track Cycling World Cup Classics in Glasgow on the event website.
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.