LONDON, England (AFP) — British track cycling king Chris Hoy is expected to add to his impressive collection of Olympic silverware when he lines up in the men’s team sprint final later Thursday.
The team sprint is the first of two medal events, the other being the women’s team sprint, on the first of six consecutive days of competition at the London Olympic velodrome.
Hoy owns five Olympic medals, four of which are gold. The Scot will collect a fifth gold, and equal the British record gold medal haul of former rower Steve Redgrave, if he anchors the host’s three-man team to victory.
France, Germany and Australia are among Britain’s biggest rivals in the three-lap power event. The Brits set the fastest time in Thursday’s qualifying round.
Britain lost another chance to increase its medal haul when officials relegated Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish for an illegal change during the first round of the women’s team sprint Thursday. The pair set a world record with their qualifying ride, but the Chinese duo of Gong Jinjie and Guo Shuang bested the mark minutes later.
The Brits had qualified for the gold medal final against China, but Australia will replace the home team.
The first day of track racing Thursday also features qualifying for the men’s team pursuit. The first round and medal rounds are held on Friday.
Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins kickstarted Britain’s bid for cycling gold at the Games by winning the men’s road race time trial Wednesday to secure his fourth Olympic title and seventh medal all round.
On medals count alone, he is now Britain’s most decorated Olympian, moving ahead of Redgrave’s tally of six.
Having won his three previous titles in track’s pursuit events, Wiggins said he would be present at the velodrome to voice his support for his former teammates.
“I’m going to hang around London for a few days, go and see the boys in the team pursuit and Chris Hoy in the keirin,” said Wiggins.
Despite winning three golds in Beijing, Hoy’s only other event in London is the men’s keirin, which is held on Tuesday.