Sir Chris Hoy is aiming to put a disappointing European Track Championships behind him as the UCI Track World Cup Classics begin with the Melbourne round on December 2-5, the Scottish veteran leading a strong British contingent to Australia.
Hoy was eliminated in the sprint event at the European Track Championships in the round of 16, beaten by Irish rider Felix English after miscalculating the finish. Despite the mishap, he rode an impressive 200m time of 9.999 in the qualifying rounds and goes into the Melbourne event focused on picking up points for London Olympic qualification.
"We're looking to try and score as many points as possible this season to secure qualification for London 2012 as early as we can," said Hoy. "This means I'll be attending the World Cups in Melbourne, Cali and Manchester plus the World Championships in Holland.
"The simplest way for us to qualify GB a place in all three sprint events is through the team sprint, as each country automatically gets a sprint and keirin place when they qualify a team sprint place.
"Our Olympic qualification is centred around the team sprint, so individual performances in relation to qualifying GB places for London aren't hugely important in that respect [winning individual sprint events].
"Obviously from a personal perspective I would have liked to have been successful in the sprint at the European Championships, but the reason for that was simply an error of judgement rather than a lack of form.
"I'm riding the sprint in Cali so look forward to getting my teeth into that event out there, but before then I've got the keirin and team sprint in Melbourne to focus on."
Hoy knows that his miscalculation against English was a blip on the radar and he's remaining focused on the big picture of riding consistently strong times against the likes of Frenchmen Kevin Sireau and Michael D'Almeida, teammate Jason Kenny and Germany's Robert Förstemann.
"I expect to have good form at the Melbourne World Cup, having ridden a 9.99s for 200m recently, but anything can happen in the races (as I found out in Poland!) and there will no doubt be a really strong field from the Australians and the rest of the world," he said.
"I know I'll have to be firing on all cylinders to make it onto the top step of the podium."
He won't be the only British rider coming to Australia with some scintillating form; the sprint-oriented squad includes Matthew Crampton, plus experienced campaigners Jason Kenny and Jason Queally in addition to enduro youngsters Luke Rowe and Andrew Tennant and endurance world-beaters Steven Burke and Ed Clancy.
Hoy believes that possessing some of the best firepower in track sprinting keeps every rider on their toes and aiming to continually improve, himself included. "I like it, as it tends to create a really competitive training environment which I believe helps push us all on," he explained.
"It's always been that way; even years ago when I rode the kilo I had Jason Queally, Craig MacLean and Jamie Staff as teammates and rivals. At the end of the day you want your teammates to be fast as you'll be lining up alongside them in the team sprint."
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