Track king Sir Chris Hoy provided a glimpse of the medal-winning glory Britain can expect at the London velodrome this summer after stealing the show in a World Cup Olympic test event on Sunday.
After four days of competition, and the first of two major steps toward this year’s London Games, Hoy sent his rivals back to the drawing board by winning two gold and one bronze from his favored speed events.
Two days after a bronze in the team sprint and a day after winning the keirin, the Edinburgh-born rider put a combination of tactical nous and formidable speed on display to dominate a quality-packed sprint tournament.
His win helped ease the pain of Britain losing the men’s team pursuit final to world champions Australia.
“We can take a lot from this; this is the best we’ve been as a team since Beijing,” said Hoy, a triple gold winner from Beijing who also won the 1km time trial gold in Athens. “It’s like racing in [the training velodrome in] Manchester, we’ve got so many positive experiences to draw upon.”
“We’ll benefit from this, but a lot of things can change in the next four or five months — a lot of hard work to be done yet,” Hoy said. “These other countries are not going to lie down and say: ‘Oh well, we’re going to be racing for second or third.’”
“It’s going to be an incredible challenge, but I think if we replicate what we’ve done here in a few months’ time, I think we’ll be a happy bunch,” Hoy said.
Although Hoy looks a solid bet to win one or several gold medals as he bids to defend his Olympic titles in the sprint, keirin and team sprint, Britain’s pursuit team may have some harder work ahead.
They were humbled by the ever impressive Australian quartet — average age 20 — which could yet be boosted by the inclusion of another, stronger rider at the upcoming April 4 to April 8 world championships in Melbourne, Australia.
Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, Alexander Edmondson and Michael Hepburn clocked a new Australian record of 3 minutes, 54.615 seconds to claim the gold as Britain settled for silver in 3:56.330.
New Zealand beat Belgium for the bronze.
Britain, who set the world record of 3:53.314 on their way to gold in Beijing four years ago, raced with Steven Burke, Ed Clancy, Peter Kennaugh and Geraint Thomas.
Thomas, the Olympic team pursuit champion who has put his road career on hold this season, promised Britain would do everything they could to close the gap ahead of the Games.
“It’s gonna be a great Olympic final. The way they’ve improved, they’ve been hunting us since Beijing and for sure they’ve got the upper hand at the minute, but that’s gonna make us hungrier,” Bobridge said.
Lithuania’s Simona Krupeckaite, meanwhile, put her Olympic gold medal credentials on display in the women’s keirin, where she finished ahead of surprise package Lee Wai-sze of Hong Kong.
In the omnium, a six-discipline event that will make its Olympic debut in London, American Sarah Hammer made up for failing to medal in the team pursuit by winning gold ahead of Australian Annette Edmondson.
Laura Trott, a member of Britain’s world record-setting pursuit team, finished third.