Hoy: Out of thin air

By Steve Thomas Before bidding farewell to the 'kilo', which has been dropped from the Olympic...

By Steve Thomas

Before bidding farewell to the 'kilo', which has been dropped from the Olympic events for track cycling, Chris Hoy made one last ditch effort to break the World kilometre record at altitude in La Paz, Bolivia. Hoy, the 'maestro of the kilo' talked about missing the record by a heartbreaking 0.005 seconds and his future plans.

Chris Hoy set out for the last kilo ride of his life in a lonely, empty velodrome in La Paz on May 13, 2007. Absent were the cheering voices he'd grown accustomed to in his years of racing that brought Olympic gold, the sea-level world kilo record, and seven world championships, and he was left in a hollow, solitary battle against hypoxic agony that is the one kilometre time trial.

"It was very strange, it was empty, which I was not used to," Hoy recalled. "If it had been a track meeting you would have heard voices and cheers, and you also know that you are racing against other people, and the conditions are the same for them. This was a real solitary and emotional experience. I'd altered my race plan, and started slower. I had no idea what was happening until a lap after I'd crossed the line, when I saw the score board.

"It would have been easier if I'd been way off the mark, but it was 5/1000th of a second off, which was just unbelievable. It would have been emotional either way, a real turning point in my career, but at least I'm glad I gave it a go."

Following that trip to South America, Hoy packed up his gear and headed off to a holiday in the Maldives. A summer holiday is a luxury track cyclists can afford, as it is prime off-season recovery time for a top track sprinter. "It was my first opportunity to take a real holiday in five or six years, a holiday without my bike. I just rested, lay on the beach and recovered," commented Chris Hoy. "I'm just about to start getting back on the bike and back to the gym now, preparing for the new track season."

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