CYCLING : Sir Chris Hoy and Geraint Thomas showed Great Britain remain the world’s leading nation at Manchester’s Velodrome with stunning victories at the Track World Cup.
Sir Chris Hoy and Geraint Thomas showed Great Britain remain the world’s leading nation at Manchester’s Velodrome with stunning victories at the Track World Cup.
One thousand days before the London Games open, Hoy, who was knighted after winning three gold medals as the British team dominated in Beijing last year, marked his return to international competition following injury with a supreme display in winning the keirin.
But his performance was usurped by Thomas, who clocked four minutes 15.015 seconds in individual pursuit qualification – a time only bettered by world record holder Chris Boardman – before winning the final with ease.
Britain can now lay claim to having the three fastest four-kilometre pursuit riders in history in Boardman – world record holder after setting 4mins 11.114secs against the clock in Manchester in August 1996 – Thomas and Bradley Wiggins.
Thomas, Olympic champion in the team pursuit, expressed surprise at his ride as he has little experience in the individual event.
“It’s shocking really,” he said. “That (the qualifying ride) is only the third race I’ve ever done. I knew I was going well, I just didn’t know how well until now.”
Many believe Boardman’s record is unsurpassable as he was riding in the ‘Superman’ position which has since been outlawed. Thomas certainly made a good attempt.
Three-time world and double Olympic champion Wiggins watched on as Thomas beat his personal best of 4:15.031, set as he won gold in Beijing.
Unfortunately for the 23-year-old from Cardiff, the pursuit is set to be dropped from the Olympic programme for London in changes proposed by the international cycling union (the UCI) to gain gender parity.
“It’s disappointing, because obviously I’m not bad at it – I would’ve definitely been going for that,” added Thomas. “The worlds are still massive in my mind. The Olympics is big, but getting that world title for an individual pursuit would still be massive for me. That’s definitely something I’m going to go for.”