Former Olympic skier forced to delay bike debut against Hoy and co

Former Olympic skier Alain Baxter has been forced to delay his cycling debut this week after withdrawing from the national track championships because of illness. The 35-year-old was due to take on triple gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy in tomorrow’s sprint and Saturday’s keirin in the Manchester Velodrome.

Baxter said on the BBC Sport website: "I was really looking forward to racing against Chris Hoy as it would have been a pretty big experience. I might have got away with not being fully fit in skiing but this is brand new for me.”

"It's really disappointing as I've been in training all summer but there will be other opportunities to try and get into the Scotland team for the Commonwealth Games."

Edinburgh-born Baxter was forced to retire from competitive skiing earlier this year because of a back problem but has said he wants to compete as a cyclist at the 2012 Olympics.

Nicknamed “The Highlander” the Scot was at one point ranked as high as 11th in the world as a skiier an impressive feat for an athlete from a non-alpine country.

He won Britain's first Olympic skiing medal at the Salt Lake City Olympics but was stripped of it after failing a doping test. He put it down to using an American nasal inhaler and was later cleared of any wrongdoing by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but his medal was not returned.

Despite Baxter’s absence there will be a strong Scottish contingent at the Championships, headed by Hoy. The championships will feature several other riders from Hoy's former club, City of Edinburgh, including sprinters Bruce Croall, Callum Skinner, Kevin Stewart, Charline Joiner and Daisy Sherwood.

The event is the first of three top cycling events in Manchester this autumn. It’s followed by the UCI Track Cycling World Cup Classics from Friday, October 30-Sunday, November 1 and the UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships from Friday, November 6-Sunday, November 8.