Sir Chris Hoy will always be remembered as one of track cycling’s most explosive athletes, and not only when he was on the track: London’s Olympic stadium literally exploded on July 25th when this athlete, who a few days later was to become the most successful British Olympian ever, entered the stadium.
The occasion was the London 2012 opening ceremony and Hoy was bearing the British flag, watched by 62,000 supporters, with a billion television viewers witnessing the spectacle from a distance. It is impossible to calculate how much this track cyclist, who announced his retirement on Friday at the age of 37, has contributed to cycling.
The darling of the crowds and a familiar figure on advertising boards, Hoy celebrated his Olympic medals on August 8th on the stage in Hyde Park, once again provoking near hysteria among the 40,000 people present who gave him rock star status. A great many would have liked to see him back in the saddle, but his amazing list of achievements will finally remain at seven Olympic medals (of which six gold) and 11 titles of UCI World Champion.
"There comes a time when your body just says’ enough’,” he explained. So Hoy will not compete at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, which will take place in the velodrome bearing his name in Glasgow, the city where it all started. As a child, he tried rugby and rowing then threw his brute force and nerves of steel into BMX after becoming spellbound by a bicycle chase in the Steven Speilberg film ET. In his own way, he also became a creature from another planet, one of talent and modesty. The new British school
At 18 years of age he discovered the velodrome and has never looked back. His first silver medal came in the team sprint at the 1999 UCI World Championships, his first gold medal in 2002. Between times he won silver at the 2000 Sydney Games, again in the team sprint. At the next Games, Athens 2004, he got gold in the kilometre, followed by three titles in 2008 in Beijing (a first for a British athlete in 100 years) in the keirin, individual sprint and team sprint. And to top it off, last year in London he took the honours in the team sprint and the keirin.
His career has marked the renaissance of British track cycling, which began in 1997 after a disastrous Atlanta Games the year before. The riders had to tinker with their own bikes and had to ride between showers on the open-air track in Meadowbank, Edinburgh. Grants from the National Lottery fund followed, as well as the professionalization of the athletes and their staff, research for cutting edge training methods and the British school became a winning machine.
Hoy now passes the torch to the next generation, which we already saw in action in London: “I’ve had my time in the sun and it’s time to let the other athletes have their share,” comments the legend. In London, he already had to give up his place in the individual sprint to Jason Kenny, 12 years his younger. Hoy was devastated by the news but bowed out in silence and encouraged his young compatriot. An inspiration and an outstanding role model
Hoy’s reputation has been built up not only from his cycling career but also his elegance. He is a model of sportsmanship. Team spirit, respect for his opponents, respect of his environment, self respect…. the tributes that flow in today, from the sporting and political world, emphasise Hoy’s example to society. As for the glory, he has had his share but has never revelled in it. If he hadn’t weighed 92 kilos, Hoy might have embarked on a road cycling career. He has been known to swap his track bike for a road bike: in 2006 he joined the masses in a cycle-sport event which saw him climb the Izoard, the Lautaret and the Alpe d’Huez.
Pat McQuaid, UCI President, also acknowledges this cycling giant : "Your decision to retire from cycling while still at the very top of your sport must not have been easy, but it is one I can understand as you have always endeavoured to compete at the peak of your abilities. (...) I would like to pay personal tribute to your dedication and professionalism and the hugely positive influence you have had on cycling. You are an inspiration and an outstanding role model encouraging younger athletes who are striving to obtain their own personal goals".
Image courtesy of UCI Communication Services
Astana Pro Team rider Vincenzo Nibali looks to defend his title as champion at Tirreno-Adriatico this week, and has spent the early season preparing in Argentina, the Gulf States and Italy, with this race as one of his primary objectives in the 2013 season.
Nibali, who joined Astana Pro Team in the off season as the designated leader, will have a strong complement of support riders behind him on Wednesday when the race kicks off in San Vincenzo on the Tyrrhenian coast south of Livorno.
"So many great riders are coming to Tirreno-Adriatico this year. My goal will be to race will against them and look to the competition that awaits us. I have enormous respect for my competitors, but I am not afraid of them, and to start Tirreno-Adriatico for me with the number one on my back has a significance that I fully recognize,", said Nibali.
Astana Pro Team Manager Giuseppe Martinelli said the time trials will be a serious focus this week for Nibali, and added that much time and effort has gone in to creating advantages in the discipline.
"Our focus in the early season has been to create advantages for Vincenzo in the time trial where once there were drawbacks. We have worked with our clothing manufacturer NOA to get the right skinsuit fit, we have worked with our physiotherapists to get Vincenzo more flexible in the time trial position, and we have worked extensively with our partners at Specialized on a whole host of issues pertaining to the time trial.
The team at Specialized Racing has the best minds in aerodynamics, bike fit and ergonomics, and all of this will contribute to VIncenzo's performance this week at Tirreno-Adriatico," said Martinelli
Image courtesy of Chris Baldwin
Astana Pro Team riders:
Vincenzo Nibali - ITA
Paolo Tiralongo - ITA
Alessandro Vanotti - ITA
Valerio Agnoli - ITA
Janez Brajkovic - SLO
Fredrik Kessiakoff - SWE
Dmitriy Gruzdev - KAZ
Dmitry Muravyev - KAZ
They are young, they are British or German, and they have in common a taste for speed and, since this Sunday, the fact that they have won two gold medals in the 2013 UCI Track World Championships in Minsk.
Including the American Sarah Hammer, who convincingly won the Omnium on the last day of what turned out to be an excellent event from a technical point of view, Rebecca James and Stefan Botticher have been this week’s main attractions.
Botticher: a student of Michael Hubner With his remarkable individual skills, and an exceptional mentor such as former World Champion Michael Hubner, Stefan Botticher had everything he needed to succeed.
Already winner of the team event, at 21 years of age he managed to add a prestigious double achievement to his career by defeating Russia’s Denis Dmitriev in two rounds in the individual final.
The bronze medal in this discipline was won by the Frenchman François Pervis, who grabbed his first world title in the kilometre race.
Hammer always at the top Only one athlete entered the competition, but two gold medals were obtained: the American team’s good results mirror those of Sarah Hammer, who – at 30 years of age – succeeded in taking two new world titles in Minsk.
She was victorious in the individual sprint during the opening day and in the Omnium, beating Laura Trott, who had defeated her at the London Olympics, and Annette Edmondson.
“La Madison, s’il vous plaît!” The European teams took a firm hold on the podium of the Madison: over the 50 kilometres of the race which elicited the enthusiasm of an audience as large as ever in the velodrome of the capital city of Belarus, France’s Vivien Brisse and Morgan Kneisky (2009 Scratch World Champion) came in front of Spain’s David Muntaner Juaneda and Albert Torres Barcelo and Germany’s Henning Bommel and Theo Reinhardt.
The last one destined for James The last image of the 2013 UCI Track Cycling World Championships will have been that of Rebecca James, smiling on the highest step of the podium after the Keirin, surrounded by China’s Jinjie Gong and Cuba’s Lisandra Guerra Rodriguez. For the young woman from Wales, this being her third personal medal after gold in the individual sprint and bronze in the team event, these World Championships will probably only be the first stage of a long and fruitful career in the discipline of sprint.
In Minsk, track cycling may have found its new leading lady for the years to come.
On Saturday, during the fourth day of the competition held in Minsk (Belarus), Italy and the Czech Republic won their first gold medals. In total, 20 nations have had at least one athlete on the podium, whereas 10 national teams representing Europe, Oceania, America and Asia shared the 15 gold medals awarded during the first four evenings at the velodrome in Minsk.
Machacova on the top step Jarmila Machacova from the Czech Republic made no secret of her ambitions at the start of the points race: ranked second in the 2011 World Championships, she was determined to seize her opportunity to win in Belarus. At the end of the hundred laps, she was ahead of the Mexican Sofia Arreola Navarro, a former trainee at the World Cycling Centre, who had already finished second in the Scratch on Friday. The bronze medal was awarded to Italy’s Giorgia Bronzini – one of the athletes with the most prestigious record of these last few years, track and road included. James, the new Pendleton? Great Britain didn’t have to wait a long time to find a successor to Victoria Pendleton, the star of the sprint disciplines up to the London Olympic Games. In these current World Championships, 21-year-old Rebecca Angharad James was finally crowned, by beating the German rider Kristina Vogel in the final of the individual event. Double Junior World Champion in 2009, and twice in third place in Minsk in the 500 metres and the team sprint, the Welsh rider obtained her first rainbow jersey at the Elite level on this Saturday evening. To get the bronze medal, the winner of the 500 metres, Lee Wai Sze from Hong Kong, beat the Chinese rider Shuan Guo, a World Cycling Centre's trainee. The Omnium goes to a “Kiwi” New Zealand has won its first gold medal of the 2012 World Championships thanks to Aaron Gate, who triumphed in the Omnium. After the six events of the programme, the Auckland-born rider arrived ahead of the Dane Lasse Norman Hansen, gold medallist in London, and of the Australian Glenn O’Shea, the current Champion. Twenty-three year old Gate had won a bronze medal in the team pursuit in the 2012 World Championships and Olympic Games. Sunday’s programme On Sunday, the 2013 UCI Track World Championships in Minsk will close with four finals: the women’s Omnium and Keirin, and the men’s individual sprint and the Madison.
Thanks to Simon Yates’ and Jason Kenny’s wins in the third evening of the UCI Track World Championships, Great Britain has taken first place in the medals ranking in Minsk (Belarus). With three wins, the British now lead in front of Australia and Germany. Pawlowska, one year on The only women’s event scheduled for this meeting, the Scratch, was won by Katarzyna Pawlowska who beat Mexico’s Sofia Arreola Navarro and Russia’s Evgeniya Romanyuta. At 24 years of age, the Pole has obtained her second consecutive win in this speciality in the World Championships, a year after the Melbourne edition. Yates, the man to watch out for in the future? If, to this day, the best British performances in this edition of the UCI Track World Championships had been achieved by the women, nobody could possibly question the ability of the world’s strongest team to shine. The first of two victories of the day “made in UK” went to Simon Yates, who came back from behind to win the points race in the last sprint. For his first experience at this level, Yates – who has just celebrated his 20th birthday– took part in the event’s decisive move with four other attackers: after having gained a lap on all his rivals he finally came one point ahead of Spain’s Eloy Teruel Rovira and five points ahead of Russia’s Kirill Sveshnikov. Kenny, grabs the Keirin Olympic Champion in the team sprint at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Individual Sprint World Champion at Apeldoorn in 2011 and double Olympic Champion in these disciplines last August in London, Jason Kenny had yet to be crowned in the Keirin. On the Minsk track, one month before his 25th birthday, the world sprint number one succeeded in completing his amazing prize-winning record by defeating Germany’s Maximilian Levy, the winner of the 2009 World Championships in Pruszkow and Olympic runner-up. Jason Kenny, the designated successor to Sir Chris Hoy in sprint track cycling, has now inaugurated his own era, which is likely to last a long time. But 20-year old Matthijs Büchli from the Netherlands, who arrived third in the event, stands out among the rivals that the Brit will meet more than once in the competitions. Saturday's race schedule On Saturday, the fourth and last-but-one day of the World Championships will enable the awarding of medals in the women’s points race and sprint and in the men’s Omnium.
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