Agence France Presse
Four-time Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy will return to familiar ground this week in search of assurances that his bid to rule the London VeloPark in 2012 is still on track.
Hoy was one of the stars of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 when he won three gold medals from the sprint, keirin and team sprint, adding to his 2004 gold in the kilometer.
But after missing the worlds in 2009 due to a spectacular keirin crash the Edinburgh-born rider is keen to put his world-beating credentials back on display at this week’s championships in Denmark.
Two years away from the 2012 Games, however, Hoy says the prospect of not dominating big rivals from France, Australia, Germany and Denmark over four days of racing at the Ballerup Super Arena would not be a disaster.
“This week is about the titles because it still means a lot to be world champion and winning a rainbow jersey again would be a great achievement,” said Hoy, who won his first world title at Ballerup in 2002 and could become the first Britain to win 10 world titles this week.
“It’s something I am driven and motivated by but there is the bigger picture as well. This week, after all, is a stepping-stone towards London 2012.
“If we win and dominate, it doesn’t mean it was a breeze and everything is going great and vice versa, if we don’t wipe the board with gold medals, it is not a disaster.”
With the exception of the 2009 edition, Britain has dominated its world rivals in recent years. But the driving force has always been the dream of Olympic supremacy.
In 2012 Victoria Pendleton could emulate Hoy’s Beijing feats, thanks to a recent initiative which has led to track gender parity on the Olympic program.
Previously, the men enjoyed racing in seven Olympic finals, the women three. Now with five apiece, Pendleton will be more inspired than ever when she saddles up for the sprint, keirin and team sprint at the Games.
Those reforms have meant the culling of the Olympic individual pursuit, points race and Madison, although they remain untouched at world championship level where a total of 20 (10 plus 10) finals will be raced.
That means Australia, in the middle of a rebuilding program following a paltry one-medal haul from Beijing, can look to the likes of pursuiter Jack Bobridge to help steal a share of the limelight.
Bobridge, 20, has just begun his elite professional road career with American team Garmin, but still has plenty to offer in track.
Britain’s Chris Boardman holds the world pursuit record, but his 1996 time of 4min 11.114 was set using an aerodynamic stretched position that has since been banned by the International Cycling Union (UCI).
Last month Bobridge posted 4:14.427 on his way to qualifying for the gold medal ride-off of the Australian championships, a time that means he is the fastest man in the world over 16 laps under current rules.
Talk of an entirely new world record may be premature — however, Bobridge’s recent feat could be decisive in his bid for revenge against Taylor Phinney, the American tyro who beat him to the pursuit gold last year.
Although the pursuit was one of the three events axed from the Olympics, the team pursuit remains and will be hotly contested in Denmark.
Britain are the reigning Olympic champions, but will be hard pushed by reigning world champions Denmark, who beat a Bobridge-inspired Australia to gold last year.
The hosts have high expectations for their pet event, to be held on Friday, as well as the Madison, in which Michael Morkov and Alex Rasmussen are the reigning champions.
U.S. residents can watch the entire competition March 24-28 via on-demand webcast on www.universalsports.com beginning Wednesday at 1:30 ET.
Wednesday, March 24
Points race (40km)
500 meter time trial
Thursday, March 25
Friday, March 26
Kilometer time trial
Saturday, March 27
Sunday, March 28
Points race (25km)