MANCHESTER, England (AFP) – Sir Chris Hoy escaped a spectacular crash in the keirin on Saturday during the UCI track cycling World Cup meeting in Manchester, England, winning an event that saw Malaysian Azizulhasni Awang cross the line with a seven-inch splinter of wood embedded in one leg.
Awang was one of four riders involved in a high-speed collision that saw Hoy’s rivals scrambling to regain their composure and collect their bikes before crossing the line to gain World Cup points.
The Malaysian’s heroics actually saw him finish third, good enough to pip Hoy for the keirin series title, which covers the four meetings that constitute the track World Cup. Then he was taken to hospital for the removal of the splinter, which passed clean through his lower left leg from one side to the other.
But Scotsman Hoy, a triple gold medalist at the Beijing Olympics, proved that at 34, he remains a dominant force despite a mediocre showing on Friday in which he lost the individual sprint semifinal to young countryman Jason Kenny.
“It was only on the victory lap that I came around and saw the guys lying on the floor,” said Hoy. “The crash looked nasty and hopefully the boys will be all right.
“But I’m particularly pleased after yesterday. It was a hard day’s racing on Friday, it takes a lot out of you physically and mentally because it is 13 hours from start to finish and not to win it was disappointing.
“But I had to think, ‘That’s finished,’ and move on to today, and I really enjoyed it. I had a lot of confidence going into the final and I hit it hard and won by a clear margin.”
In contrast, Victoria Pendleton, who is following Hoy in aiming for three gold medals in the 2012 London Olympics, saw her star far less in the ascendancy.
The team sprint and keirin — both absent from the Beijing Olympics for women — have been added to the 2012 Games schedule, meaning Pendleton could compete across exactly the same disciplines as Hoy next summer.
However, on Saturday, in the fourth and final World Cup track meeting of the winter, the 30-year-old Pendleton continued what has so far been an unproductive weekend.
On Friday, her new team sprint pairing with BMX specialist Shanaze Reade proved unsuccessful and failed to make the last four. And in the individual sprint, Australian Anna Meares handily beat her 2-0 in the semi-finals.
Pendleton got the better of Meares in the Olympic final three years ago but looked distinctly second best on this occasion. Her consolation came in winning the bronze-medal race while Meares beat China’s Shuang Guo in the final.