Sir Chris Hoy kicks off his build-up to the 2012 Olympic Games at next weekend’s European Track Championships in Pruszkow, Poland, but is taking a cautious approach to the first qualification event for London 2012. The Scot’s primary objective is the world championships next March and so he is mindful of not digging too far into his reserves this early in his season.
“It wouldn’t be sensible to come into a long track season with all guns blazing,” Hoy told Reuters. “"Last year I made that mistake when I was too enthusiastic at the start and paid the price by the end. I've taken deliberate steps to make sure that doesn't happen again.”
This time around, Hoy has placed greater emphasis on fine-tuning his base training than on beginning his season on top form. While the European Championships constitute an important qualifying event for the London Olympics, Hoy recognises that he will need to be competitive all the way through to March and has cut his cloth accordingly.
“I've been doing long workouts in the gym till much later in my usual build-up schedule. If it was a really big event, I'd have backed off much earlier,” he said. “This time round, I'm going to be slightly cagey.”
Stiff test in Poland
That is not to say that Hoy is taking the racing in Poland lightly. He opted to forgo competing in the Commonwealth Games for Scotland so as to focus on the European Championships and a crucial winter season as Olympic Games loom large on the horizon. He anticipates a stiff test in Poland.
“It's basically going to be like a world championships without the Australians," Hoy explained. "It's very important to start off for the Olympics on the right foot, and the Europeans are our first step towards qualification for London 2012.”
The British team’s aim for the European Championships is to clock up as many qualification points as early as possible, so as to avoid being forced to chase points at World Cup events around the world later in the season.
“This time, we want to do well early on, partly so we don't travel quite as much to World Cup events in 2011 and risk getting tired later in the Olympic build-up,” Hoy said. “We want some solid results, and get some good points. But I want to keep that top form for the world championships."
Hoy is the reigning Olympic keirin, sprint and team sprint champion, and the British team will experiment with a change in their order in the team event in Pruszkow. Hoy took gold in Beijing as the third rider, but in Poland he will take the number two position, between Jason Kenny and Matt Crampton.
“The order is a work in progress and we're not really sure of the final format or line-up yet, but there are other strategies possible and we've covered it a fair bit in training," Hoy noted. "But finally the aim will be to have a line-up that's technically as sharp as possible for London."
For now, however, Hoy will simply be looking to get his Olympic campaign off to the best possible start. “From how I've performed in recent races, I know I'm in good shape and coming into top form, which bodes well,” he said.
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Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation, published by Gill Books.
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