Sir Chris Hoy believes Great Britain’s track cyclists could be on course to dominate at another Olympic Games after a strong showing in last month’s world championships.
Although Britain finished fifth in the final standings only the Netherlands could match their tally of 10 medals, and there were unexpected successes, not least a first world title in the men’s team pursuit since 2018 a year after Britain lost the Olympic crown they had held since 2008.
Britain have dominated Olympic track cycling since 2008 – when Hoy won three of his six titles – and finished top of the medal table in Tokyo last year despite the growing threat of rival nations. Hoy believes the signs are there they could do so again in two years’ time.
“I think they’ve got grounds to be very optimistic,” Hoy told the PA news agency. “Britain can be in the mix in the majority of events with a good chance of medalling in all of them.
“As we know, it comes down to tiny, tiny margins so you can never go in predicting the number of medals but I think we’ll see an incredibly strong team capable of being right up there.”
Among the most encouraging results in Paris was the bronze medal won by Lauren Bell, Sophie Capewell and Emma Finucane in the women’s team sprint – a major area of weakness before Tokyo, where Britain failed to even qualify.
Britain took bronze in the event in last year’s world championships too – but that was against a depleted field only weeks after the Olympics. This year’s result was more significant marker.
“They improved by a second and a half over the three laps, which is a huge step forward,” Hoy said. “Sophie Capewell has genuinely been mixing it with the best in the world. They’re on a really steep upward trajectory.”
How @_katiearchibald won the Scratch race 😯
SO. MUCH. POWER 🤯
— UCI Track Champions League (@UCITCL) November 12, 2022
Hoy said Britain’s successes also came with Dame Laura Kenny and Katie Archibald off their best after well documented personal struggles.
Archibald’s partner, mountain biker Rab Wardell, died suddenly aged 37 in August. Having helped Britain to women’s team pursuit silver at the world championships, Archibald took a hugely emotional scratch race win at the Track Cycling Champions League meeting in Mallorca at the weekend.
“It’s a year I don’t think any of us can imagine,” Hoy said of his fellow Scot, who had been battling injury and illness before Wardell’s death.
“From the few social media posts she’s done and from speaking to her, it seems cycling has been her one constant, some structure to her day. It’s so raw, so recent. She’s had a terrible year anyway before Rab tragically passed away.
“I think she’s showed us how incredibly strong she is. The whole cycling community was there supporting her and that win was an emotional moment for so many people watching.”
Laureus Challenge 2022 presented by Sierra Space is ready for lift off.
100 inspirational fundraisers trekking 100km through the mountains, deserts and valleys of the UAE over the next four days.
— Laureus (@LaureusSport) November 14, 2022
Hoy was speaking from the desert of the United Arab Emirates, where he is taking part in the Laureus Challenge 2022 presented by Sierra Space, a four-day 100-kilometre hike in often searing heat across sand dunes and mountains.
“We’ve literally just driven in to the middle of the desert somewhere and been dropped off,” Hoy said.
Hoy will look forward to being on more familiar territory next summer, when Scotland hosts the UCI’s first ever combined world championships, a new format bringing together all the major disciplines the year before an Olympics.
“It’s incredible when I think back to the fight we had to try and get an indoor velodrome in Scotland, racing at Meadowbank 30-odd years ago, to think now Scotland will host the biggest ever cycling event in the world,” he said.
“It’s so exciting. We’re so hyped up for it.”
:: Sir Chris Hoy was speaking ahead of The Laureus Challenge in association with Sierra Space.