World sprint champion Chris Hoy reinforced his Olympic gold credentials by defending his keirin crown in style at the world track cycling championships in Manchester Saturday.
Hoy, who won his first gold in the coveted sprint event on Friday, was unbeatable in the six-man final controlling the final three laps to win ahead of Dutchman Teun Mulder and Greek Christos Volikakis.
Mulder took the silver with Volikaksis taking the bronze ahead of Frenchman Arnaud Tournant, who was devastated to finish fourth.
Hoy’s ninth career world title – and second consecutively in the keirin – means Britain now have a remarkable nine gold medals from 14 finals ahead of the final day of competition on Sunday.
And less than five months ahead of the Olympics, the 32-year-old Scot has raised his profile immensely in track speed events. After four tough days of competition and his championships now over, Hoy is only too happy to be taking a rest.
“It’s just elation to finally get through this week,” said Hoy, who began his campaign on the opening day with a silver in the team sprint event behind France. “To finish with two gold and a silver is just phenomenal. I did’t expect to win two golds. Fantastic, it’s a great way to finish it off.
“I had very tired legs and the last lap was a long way for me,” he added. “The line couldn’t come soon enough but when I crossed it, it was sheer relief.”
Hoy’s bid to defend the crown he won for the first time last year, after he raced his final kilometre by winning the kilo gold last year, was boosted earlier in the competition when some of his big rivals were dumped out.
Theo Bos of the Netherlands and France’s Kevin Sireau, both beaten by Hoy in the sprint tournament, failed to make it to the second round, as did Olympic champion Ryan Bayley of Australia.
The only big threats to Hoy in the six-man final, on paper at least, was Teun Mulder and Frenchman Arnaud Tournant.
Only Mulder, who had come through the repechages round to book his second round place, made it on to the podium after a final in which Hoy took the lead after the bell and was never threatened over the final three laps.
The Edinburgh rider is the reigning Olympic champion in the kilometre – which is no longer on the Olympic programme.
Having turned to keirin last year before concentrating on the sprint this season, Hoy has shown phenomenal progress against the likes of Bos, and a talented French team which flattered to deceive in the sprint event.
But he admitted that his, and the British team’s success, wasn’t all down to the noisy home crowd which he said was “like an extra hand pushing me round the track.
“It’s years of hard work, planning and attention to details. Every possible area we can we’re trying to maximise,” added Hoy, who made track cycling history Friday when he became the first rider to hold titles in all four speed events.
“There’s so many people working behind the scenes, and they are all world class too,” he added. “It’s not just the guys getting the medals who deserve the praise.”
With still Sunday to go, Britain have now surpassed last year’s record medals tally from Mallorca where they won 11 in total and seven gold.
Hoy, who will now be taking two complete weeks off the bike, added: “I think a lot of people thought that after last year the only way was down. So to win nine is fantastic.”
© BikeRadar & AFP 2008