TalkingShop: Sir Chris Hoy

Interview with the four time Olympic Champion Sir Chris Hoy ahead of the London World Cup starting on Friday for Chris.

Chris explained in his interview with PA how the training sessions on the Olympic boards have gone well and that he was riding fast on the new track. But, he added, you shouldn’t read a lot into that.

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“Because there are others on the track at the same time, and there is circulating air, the times you get aren’t always realistic but it was pretty quick. Just that feeling of being at a race venue as well, you kind of forget you are in your home country sometimes”.

“It feels like a foreign venue and there are a lot of foreign guys here who you’re not familiar with. You just get that feeling. There is a special atmosphere though. From the first training day, you can tell that it is more than just a World Cup. This is proper marker for the Olympics.”

Asked whether he will train at the track a lot in the run up to the Olympics, Sir Chris replied … “I hope so. It’s open for all nations to train on so we have booked our slots for that. Between the Worlds and the Olympics will be easy. We won’t come back here until after the Worlds so… in terms of the track itself, there is very little you have to practice on. It’s the same as Manchester, Melbourne, Newport, Sydney – that type of shape. There are very subtle changes between them though.”

“You just have to know where the one toilet is!”

[pullquote]“It’s more about your surroundings.. you might think why do you come down here, fight through traffic to get to the velodrome each day but it’s about turning up and making it feel like it’s our venue, it’s our territory. Now, it doesn’t feel like that yet but I am sure it will do by the Olympics.”[/pullquote]

Is it fair that others can train on the London track and not just GB? “It has to be fair for everyone” Chris says. “So long as we can get access, it doesn’t matter. You want it to be fair. So long as we get access when we want then that’s the most important thing.”

Chris Hoy versus Jason Kenny
First and second at the last Olympics in the Sprint, and with only one rider per nation per event, a lot has been made of the rivalry between Chris and Jason Kenny.

Sir Chris though plays it down by saying, “there are so many other riders out there taking part at this World Cup and with there being restrictions on numbers and places, you have got 3 or 4 French riders, same with the Germans, Dutch, Malaysian.”

“There are so many riders out there that you can’t afford to think about anyone but yourself. If you start worrying about other riders, then it’s detrimental so you just want to do the best you can and hope that it’s good enough.”

On whether it’s different competing against someone he trains with and races with so often, Chris says “It is. There is a different dynamic. I have experienced that many times before against Jason, Craig (MacLean), Matt (Crampton), Ross (Edgar)- all these people you train with every day – even back in the days of the Kilo with Jason (Queally) and Craig.”

“So, I have always taken the same approach. It doesn’t matter who you race against. You try to expose their weaknesses. The only difference is that they know what your weaknesses are and you know how they will ride the race and also, it just makes it a bit more of a kind of a mind game, a strategy game, a cat and mouse strategy.”

“I enjoy racing against Jason as much as I do against anyone else. At the end of the day, you race as hard as you can. It’s war on the track but as soon as it’s finished, you shake hands. We are friends off the track.”

Having been World Champion in so many events, Chris was asked whether wearing the Rainbow bands will be a boost to Jason Kenny?

“I hope it will yeah. He deserves it and has raced very well. He has not had the opportunity to enjoy it and relish it since he won it and enjoy the glory which you get with it. He didn’t get that chance.”

“It’s not the way he wanted to get it, but I am sure he will be proud to wear the rainbow jersey. He has been Junior World champion before  (three titles in the one year) but he has not had a senior World title, so it will be a special moment for him. I hope the crowd cheers when he gets it and I hope he responds well when he steps on the track when he is wearing it.”

Asked if there was an added ‘edge’ to the competition between them with only one spot for the Olympics in the event, Chris replied, “I think back to, for example Athens, there were four of us in for two Kilo places. That was a battle right up to the World Championships. I won the World Championships in Melbourne, but Craig was leading the way in terms of selection for the Kilo and there was Jamie (Staff) and Jason as well. It was a real battle to get that place and it seemed crazy after the World Championships having won the Kilo and the Sprint, but up until a point, I was really battling for an individual place too so it’s not a new experience for me.”

“Just because there is one place, it makes it a bit tighter but it doesn’t make me change my training or racing. You give 100% all the time anyway so it’s not as if it makes you work any harder or try and get any more out of yourself… you do what you can all the time anyway. It’s tough, because it means for three or four nations, there will be a few big name riders not at the Olympic Games that would have been there had there been two places allowed.”

On whether they train together or separately, Chris says “It’s not how you think in terms of training and racing together. The whole team trains together. It’s about the performance, speed, the power, the straight line training if you like.”

“We do tactical racing with different riders at different times. It’s more about – you don’t really race unless it’s a proper race situation but you watch videos. It’s all documented, analysed, videod, put on hard drives after every race.”

“You can sit and watch videos of all your rivals. You know exactly what kind of ride they like to do. If they like to lead from the front or sit at the back , their top speed, their acceleration. You know their strengths. There are not really any hidden things in there. It’s very much ‘cards on the table’ how we are both going to ride.”

“It’s about who can dominate the race and just control the race to the best of your ability.”

Sir Chris racing Jason Kenny and the other world class Brits in the British Championships.

Does Chris get to race Jason in training? “Very rarely. We don’t race against each other that often. It will happen more after the Worlds. The Keirin, for example. We don’t race that very often, but you could essentially set up a training race situation after the World Champs with riders that aren’t riding the Olympics to make sort of training partners. Almost like a sparring partner situation. We will look in to that after the World Championships.”

“What happened in Beijing between Jason and I was that we had our own tactics. Because I had been to the German Grand Prix that summer with Jan (van Eijden), Jan took me to the line for the Sprint in Beijing.”

“Ian was there for the Keirin and we got to the final and having got the tactical advice through the series, he said, ‘right you are on your own here’. There was no favouritism. There was no riding this gear, that gear.”

“He said: ‘well done, you are in the final. It’s up to you to fight it out now’. Which was like… getting to the final of the Games, you think: ‘this is the one time you want to have advice…’!”

“People think – ‘this young lad (Jason) – it’s his first Olympic Games against an experienced older rider (Chris), but I was essentially more of a novice in the sprint than he was at that time so it was equally bad for me to think right what am I going to do here.”

Tactical coach – Jan van Eijden?
“Yeah, but Ian knows his tactics too but Jan I think because that’s his real strong suit – his tactical knowledge – he races on the track whether it’s one-on-one with the girls, he races with the girls quite regularly.”

“So yeah, both are there and you couldn’t have made two more straight down the line guys than Ian or Jan so there is never any feeling of favouritism, or polarisation of camps.”

Sir Chris and Jason Kenny – different types of riders? “Yes. We both have our strengths – we both know what we want to do and that’s it. It’s not really that big a deal at the moment as there are so many other people who we are racing against.”

“There is a very good chance we could race each other this weekend or at the Worlds but it’s about concentrating on our own performances and making sure we are in the best shape of our lives because we aren’t racing ourselves.”

Team Sprint – is GB’s line up experimental?
“Yeah, it is a little bit. In some ways there are certain things that we have a lot of information about and we know figures very clearly, but in terms of the team and the formation it is in, we haven’t raced that yet.”

“It’s a new formation. In theory, it should be pretty good. I am not saying it will be amazing. The Germans are really setting the pace at the moment and it will be a big challenge to beat them and the French with this formation at its current stage. It’s pointing toward the direction we want to go in though for the rest of the year.”

And Ross Edgar, how is he after being injured? “He is fine yeah. He injured himself but he is fine now. He missed ten days’ worth of training so it has had a slight knock on effect because of that but in terms of injuries, he is absolutely 100%. He is looking forward to his first challenge of being man one.”

“In previous years, it has been the Keirin, the Sprint and the Team Sprint, being man 2 or man 3. Now he is training for an entirely different challenge. He is entirely focused on this one thing so hopefully he is going to respond to that and we are going to see some good times.”

Where are the challenges going to come from to Sir Chris?
There are a couple. Alex Bird, I think he won the Keirin in the Aussie nationals a couple of weeks ago. Shane Perkins basically got beaten in both of his main events – the Kierin and the Sprint – by two Aussie riders but again it’s the nationals, people are training through these things and you can’t read too much in to it.”

“The thing you have to do is look at the young riders who have potential to do something like Jason Kenny did. He came in to form very late form before the last Games. There are a couple of German riders too. But, again, you don’t worry about other riders too much because you train as hard as you can.”

“You focus on your own performance and if you do that, then you will have a good chance of winning and that is what I tend to do.”

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