MANCHESTER, England (AFP) ─ French sprinter, Kevin Sireau proved Friday at the World Cup meet in Manchester he will be one of the favorites at the London Olympics as the competition heated up between Jason Kenny and Sir Chris Hoy to be Great Britain’s sole representative in the event next summer.
New regulations in track cycling for the 2012 Games means that each nation can only enter one rider per event, thus there can be no repeat of the British glory of Beijing where Hoy beat Kenny in the men’s sprint final.
Kenny beat Hoy 2-0 in their best-of-three semi-final to advance to the final where he lost to Sireau 2-1, having won the first race.
Hoy, who at 34 is 12 years Kenny’s senior, had the consolation of finishing third in the event, beating German Maximilian Levy 2-0 in the third and fourth place race.
“He’s (Kenny) a really good guy and he deserves it,” said a gracious Hoy. “Tonight he was the better man and I accept that. I’ll go on, work hard and learn from the mistakes I made. But I was really impressed with Jason tonight, I thought he would beat Sireau.”
Team selection issues for London and, indeed, next month’s World Championships in Holland were also relevant in the women’s team pursuit, a new event for London.
Sarah Storey, a Paralympic champion at swimming and cycling, was part of a magnificent GB team effort, with Wendy Houvenaghel and Joanna Rowsell.
The home team beat a strong New Zealand outfit in a thrilling final, twice setting a British record and missing the world record by less than two-tenths of a second with a winning time of 3 minutes 19.757.
“I felt like there were eight or nine people out there with us tonight,” said Storey.
“That’s how many we have in our squad and the British record, and near world record, is an indication of all the work everyone has put in.”
In the women’s sprint, the Australian pair of Kaarle McCulloch and Anna Meares were magnificent in beating a Chinese team in the final, their time of 33.017 seconds a shade outside their own world record of 32.293.
Australia also won gold in the men’s individual pursuit with Rohan Dennis edging out popular home rider Geraint Thomas in the 4km event.