Hoy's power on the bike and leadership off it has earned him high praise from colleagues and competitors alike. Clearly earning the respect of the fans, he topped our poll with almost 44% of the vote.
Australian Anna Meares was our next finisher in the poll with 10.9%. The 29-year-old pulled off a perfect series of sprints to win Olympic gold over her rival Victoria Pendleton, one of the few riders who was able to defeat the British on their home turf.
The gold added to her world title tally (keirin and individual sprint) won in her home country earlier in the year.
First Six of 2013 up for grabs through to the finale
Behind on points entering the Six-Days of Rotterdam's concluding Madison, partners Iljo Keisse and Niki Terpstra lapped their rivals with only a handful of laps remaining to steal overall victory from defending champions Peter Schep and Wim Stroetinga. Five teams started the concluding Madison on the lead lap and by points alone Keisse and Terpstra would have finished fourth overall, but the Belgian/Dutch duo turned on the speed to gain the decisive lap which earned them the overall title.
The 31st edition of the Six-Days of Rotterdam was the first Six of the new year and provided tightly contested racing from start to finish. Defending champions Peter Schep and Wim Stroetinga led on the opening night as well as the penultimate night and looked like victory was their's but for a heartbreaking final Madison. Keisse and Terpstra had earlier led after the third night and young upstarts Nick Stöpler and Yoeri Havik also had their stint atop the standings after the second and fourth nights in Rotterdam.
While each winter in recent years the Six-Day racing calendar shrinks in size, the racing in Rotterdam showed how riveting and dynamic this winter staple of professional cycling can be.
The 31st Six-Days of Rotterdam also saw the retirement of legendary derny driver Joop Zijlaard. The 69-year-old Dutchman had paced multiple generations of the Six's stars and brought his career to a conclusion on home soil in the Netherlands.
Click on the gallery to the right for photos from this year's edition of the Six-Days of Rotterdam.
US omnium champ will also pair with East in Copenhagen
The all-but-forgotten art of steher racing will have a little yankee flavor added this week when reining US omnium champion Zak Kovalcik competes in the high-speed niche event during the 102nd Berlin Six Day January 24-29.
The mass start motor-paced track race puts each cyclist behind a full-sized motorcycle that has been modified with handlebars that sweep back toward the driver, affording the operator a standing position that creates the largest possible draft for the cyclist behind. The back side of the motorcycle also features a roller bar that the rider can bump his front wheel against without going down.
Steher bikes are equally specialized: A 24-inch front wheel on a reversed-rake fork moves the rider toward the front of the sturdy steel frame and closer to the moto's draft. A reinforced stem allows the rider to sit in a more upright position for better vision as he's being paced around the track at speeds from 65-100 km/h.
The fast, loud and chaotic event is a throwback to an earlier time when steher racing was a regular sight on velodromes across Europe and in the United States. But the UCI dropped stehers from the world championships in 1994, leaving German Carsten Podlesch as the last person to earn a rainbow jersey in the event.
Although steher racing has slipped from many track schedules, a dedicated group of enthusiasts led by Podlesch, whose uncle Rainier was also a steher world champion, have kept the event alive. It survives now at a handful of velodromes and six-day races.
“Berlin is probably the biggest stage for steher races left in the six-day world,” said Kovalcik, 30, who is starting his seventh season of track racing. “With the Dortmund Six and a lot of the other sixes going away, the stehers have been left with only two major six days on the circuit, one being Zurich and the other being Berlin. So to be able to do the stehers at Berlin is a real honor. I'm super...
Four days of racing have been completed in the Berlin Six Day with Madison world champion Kenny de Ketele and partner Luke Roberts holding the lead for the second straight evening. The Belgian/Australian duo have amassed 150 points and are the only team on the lead lap.
Three teams trail at one lap, with Franco Marvulli and Andreas Müller (the leaders after night two) in second with 140 points, Mike Kluge and Peter Schep in third at 128 points followed by Robert Bartko and Theo Reinhardt in fourth at 123 points.
Five-time German Madison champions Robert Bengsch and Marcel Kalz led on the opening night but now hold fifth at two laps and 174 points. Sixteen teams in all are contesting the 102nd edition of the Berlin Six Day.
Germany's Maximilian Levy, a multi-time world champion in the team sprint and keirin plus Olympic silver medalist in the keirin at the London Games, leads the six-man sprint competition with 46 points, closely trailed by Robert Förstemann at 45 points.
Mario Birrer stands atop the steher competition, one point ahead of both Robert Retschke and Florian Fernow. American Zachary Kovalcik holds seventh in the standings.
Click on the gallery to take in the action from Berlin.
BikeNZ will send an all-male team of just five riders to the UCI Track World Championships in Minsk, Belarus later this month.
The Kiwi team of Edward Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster defeated France and Australia at the recent Track World Cup in Mexico with the trio bolstered by London Olympic medallist Simon Van Velthooven for the worlds. Van Velthooven's efforts over the weekend at the national championships, where he claimed victory in the kilo and the keirin cemented his ride.
Aaron Gate is the lone rider selected for the endurance events; he took a clean sweep of the individual pursuit, scratch race, points race and Madison with Myron Simpson in Invercargill.
BikeNZ High Performance Director Mark Elliott said medal potential was the key in team selection.
"We are in a rebuilding phase in terms of our men's team pursuit and while we could have put a team together that would be competitive in Minsk, we believe that level of investment will be better spent on the development of a new group of endurance track riders.
"Our plan is to send eight riders to our European base in Belgium to focus on skills and development in track cycling and a road training and racing component."
He said that the form from the men's sprint group has been world class in recent weeks.
"The unlucky rider is Matt Archibald. He is an integral part of the development and his contribution has been world class. One of the real strengths with this group is there is real competition within it and that Matt is able to slot in to any role and we will not lose anything.
"However the team sprint that won in Mexico earned their place and Simon's performance at the national championships demanded his selection."
No women have been selected, with both sprint and endurance athletes focused on the Oceania Championships later in the year as their key qualifying event for a full World Cup campaign in 2014 in the...
World and Olympic champions prepare for Minsk assault
Cycling Australia has named a 16-rider long list for the upcoming UCI Track World Championships, held from 20-24 February in Minsk, Belarus. The team will be reduced to 15 athletes by 11 February as one rider is left off the current men's endurance selection.
"This year's championships will be challenging for the youthful squad who will be without last year's rainbow jersey winners Cameron Meyer (points race), Shane Perkins (team sprint) and Anna Meares (keirin and 500m time trial).
"This is the first major step in the rebuilding process for the track program and this world championships is the beginning of the journey to Rio 2016," said Cycling Australia national performance director Kevin Tabotta.
Meyer's absence at the championships is likely to be long term with the West Australian concentrating on his road career at Orica GreenEdge while Meares is yet to return to competition following her successful London Olympic campaign. Perkins' recent shoulder surgery means he won't line up to defend his team sprint title while 2012 individual pursuit medal winners Jack Bobridge and Rohan Dennis also concentrating on their professional road careers.
"The post-Olympic Games year provides an ideal opportunity for emerging talent to challenge for a place in the elite high performance program and future Cyclones teams. But the focus is still on getting Australia on the podium whether now or by laying the groundwork for the future," said Tabotta.
The chosen group to represent Australia may be missing some of its headline riders but the squad is not without serious talent. Reigning...
The courageous, silver-medal-winning performance of Tasmania's Peter Loft in the men's points race at the Cycling Australia Track National Championships may have been the event which lifted him into public consciousness, but it was another performance that made the 21-year-old particularly happy.
Having just returned from the Mexico World Cup, where he'd been a last minute inclusion to the Australian team, he was unsure of his form, but the individual pursuit on the opening day of competition was set to be his benchmark for what was to follow.
"I ended up getting fifth, so I was a little bit disappointed with that but still happy with the effort and so was my coach Gene Bates," Loft explained to Cyclingnews. "That made me a bit more positive for the scratch race and points score."
Loft, along with Budget Forklifts teammate Luke Ockerby, made sure that Tasmania really stuck it to their more-fancied opponents from the dominant states in both big-lap events
"You look at the racing field and you see guys like Glenn O'Shea, Alex Edmondson - Olympians, world class, all that. You just try and forget about that because if you start thinking negatively from the start you're never going to have a good ride," said Loft.
Just having Ockerby in support was a bonus for Loft, who had ridden the Oceania Championships in Invercargill late last year, solo.
"When Luke said he was coming over - I've been racing with Luke since I was a kid - I was quite happy just because I knew that two is always better than one," Loft explained.
Loft's mindset against his opponents swung into action as the lap counter ticked down to just over 100 laps to go in the points race, stealing a lap on the field which largely sat up. Loft stayed close to the...
Omnium, scratch race and individual pursuit for former world champion
Four-time track world champion Sarah Hammer has been chosen as the sole representative for Team USA at the upcoming UCI Track World Championships to be held in Minsk, Belarus. Hammer’s recent run of form, having taken out the omnium at the Mexico World Cup, sees the 29-year-old as one of the hot favourites when the championships begin on 20 February.
In addition to the omnium, Hammer will compete in the scratch race and individual pursuit - while her London Games silver medal-winning team pursuit squad have not been selected.
Returning to competition without fellow Team USA athletes around her is not unfamiliar to Hammer who was the only rider from the United States to compete at the third round of the UCI Track World Cup in Mexico in mid January.
For a country that dominated the medal tally at the Olympics in London, the cycling contribution was relatively lean - despite Kristin Armstrong closing out her career with gold in the women’s time trial on the road.
Two silver medals were taken home following the London track campaign and Hammer was a significant contributor for both accomplishments. Hammer took silver in the omnium while she also lined up for the women’s team pursuit where Dotsie Bausch, Jennie Reed and Lauren Tamayo formed the team that was dominated by Team GB in the final. The men however, failed to stand atop the podium in a cycling event.
Post Olympic cycles are an interesting time for many federations with USA clearly looking to rebuild over the coming years towards Rio in 2016.
"After the London Games, our coaching staff and myself took the opportunity to take a step back, take a hard look at the changing landscape within the new 'Track Structure' put forth by the UCI, reviewed our current crop of athletes within our own pathways, as well as...