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Sir Chris Hoy warms up for the keirin
Australian believes gap between Scot and challengers is closing
Sir Chris Hoy proved he still has the speed to compete at the top level of track cycling overnight with a gold medal ride in the individual sprint event in the Astana Track World Cup.
The 35-year-old Scotsman will be hoping the victory is the perfect kick start to his Olympic campaign after a tough nine months that included his first world championships without a gold medal since 2003, withdrawal from a star line up at the European Championships due to sickness and a rare defeat in the keirin this weekend.
There are plenty of challengers lining up behind the legendary Hoy, not least Shane Perkins, who said there are host of big names looking to depose Hoy from his Olympic title.
"Of course Hoy is looking good," Perkins said from the airport on his way home to Australia this morning.
"I have never had any doubts about his ability to keep improving but the world is getting faster."
For Perkins, this weekend's racing was just as promising, breaking the Australian record in the men's team sprint alongside the new line up of Scott Sunderland and Matthew Glaetzer.
"The team sprint was the first time we have ridden together so to come away with an Australian record, let alone a world high-standard time shows that the makeup can be even stronger with future rides together," he said.
"We are all looking towards what is needed come April for the world championships in Melbourne and the London Olympics and from my point of view we are very happy with the standard we produced here considering the specific preparation for the team sprint."
The performance headlined a number of strong results for Australia finishing with three gold, three silver and one bronze medal.
The next UCI Track World Cup is December 1-3 in Cali, Columbia. The big track events for 2012 are the world championships in Melbourne and of course the 2012 London Olympic Games.