Sir Chris rises above the Hoy polloi

Chris Hoy’s rivals in the keirin had clearly decided they were no match for his pace and power in a straight race, opting instead to give him the type of treatment opposing sides often target Arsenal with.

In other words, they tried to rough him up. First Josiah Ng Onn Lam cut across Hoy during the heats, knocking the Scot off his bike and earning a clear disqualification. Then, in the final, Azizulhasni Awang attempted to elbow his way through but Hoy – a man as strong as Usain Bolt is fast – continued undeterred to beat the Malaysian to the finish line by half a wheel.

The keirin is a unique event. For those who think track cycling is a non-contact sport, a simple test of man and machine against the clock, the keirin is a bit like coming out of the Last Night of the Proms and getting caught in a pub brawl. Six cyclists cruise around behind a pootling, pace-setting motor scooter – the ‘derny’ – which pulls off with two-and-a-half laps left, resulting in a madcap, free-for-all dash to the finish. (It’s not unlike watching greyhounds jogging carefully behind the hare for a couple of warm-up laps before the race actually starts.)

It is an event which rewards those riders who can combine tactical acumen with savage acceleration and the ability to sustain maximum speed. Having pointy elbows doesn’t hurt either. Hoy, a four-time world champion in the one kilometre time trial and now a three-time winner of the keirin, possesses each of those qualities in abundance.

It has so far been a disappointing Track Cycling World Championships for Britain, although the team is missing several key stars such as Bradley Wiggins, who this year is focussing solely on road racing and July’s Tour de France. Hoy’s was GB’s first win of these championships, and his tenth world title overall. (Only France’s Arnaud Tourmant, with 14, has won more.) Even at 34 – it was his birthday on Tuesday – and with a knighthood and four Olympic golds to his name, Hoy’s prodigious power and competitive fire remain undiminished.

Only a fool would bet against Hoy adding to his Olympic tally at London 2012. Or against him adding gold in Sunday’s individual sprint to yesterday’s keirin. Aside from his devastating speed, you can be sure he will have his elbows at the ready, just in case.


About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

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