Chris Hoy (Great Britain) suffered a shock defeat to Ireland's Felix English in the first round of the sprint at the European Track Championships and admitted that he lost as a result of a "silly" blunder.
The British rider moved three bike lengths clear of English and then slowed down, thinking that he had won the race. But as Hoy began to soft pedal, English caught and then passed the four-time Olympic champion to cause the biggest upset of the championships.
"I wasn't expecting anything, sitting at the front waiting for him to go," English said afterwards. "He hit me hard and pulled a big gap, but he floated up the back straight, I kept my speed up, he didn't look round and I caught him by surprise."
Hoy was ultimately beaten by a wheel at the line and thus eliminated from the championships. The Scot had skipped the Commonwealth Games in order to focus on the European Championships due to the Olympic qualification points on offer, and he was disappointed to have made such a fundamental error.
"It wasn't a tactical error, it was something that should never have happened, something stupid that I hope never happens again," Hoy said. "It was just silly, you have to be aware that you don't want to waste energy but you have to give him enough respect to make sure you finish first."
Hoy's frustration was compounded by the knowledge that he was in championship-winning form. He set the fastest time in qualifying for the sudden death section, while English was the slowest of the 24 qualifiers from the heats, over a second down.
"When you are up against an opponent who is one second slower, 99 times out of a hundred you know it's going to be straightforward and you don't want to waste energy because there is a lot of racing to come and if you smoke it and win by 50m it looks disrespectful," Hoy said.
"I went from the front, put an 85 percent jump in, got a big gap then shut it down. He looked so far back I thought he had given up. The first I knew he was there was in the home straight when I saw him coming up, and there was nothing I could do."
English was subsequently eliminated in the next round, losing to Denis Dmitriev (Russian Federation) and then to Denis Špicka (Czech Republic) in the repechage, but he was pleased with his earlier win.
"It's nuts, I'm not even a sprinter," said English, who was born in Brighton, England to Irish parents. "I was facing the best sprinter in the world and was just planning to take it from the front and expecting to lose."
The young Irishman is just 18 years of age, and spent much of the summer competing on the road before turning his attentions to the track.
"This is my first season on the track for a couple of years," English said. "I'm just here for the experience."
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