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Sat Apr 19 01:18:07 SAST 2014

Hoy storms to sprint gold as Kenny stumbles out

Julien Pretot, Reuters | 20 February, 2012 08:290 Comments
Team Britain cyclist Chris Hoy celebrates winning gold in the Men's Sprint Race in the UCI Track Cycling World Cup at the Olympic Velodrome in London February 19, 2012
Image by: Cathal McNaughton / REUTERS

Chris Hoy boosted his chances of representing Britain in the Olympic individual sprint when he brought the home crowd to their feet with a brilliant victory in the London World Cup series final after rival Jason Kenny was knocked out on Sunday. 

Hoy, who claimed gold in the keirin event on Saturday, hammered Maximilian Levy in the best-of-three race final with the German not even contesting the home straight in the second-leg.     

With only one rider per nation in the individual sprint at the Olympics, Hoy, the gold medallist in Beijing four years ago, took the upper hand against world champion Kenny, who was beaten 2-0 in the quarter-finals by Levy.     

While Kenny seemed to lack energy against Levy, Hoy still had plenty of gas to go past the German despite Saturday’s keirin effort.     

“I didn’t expect to win two gold and a bronze,” Hoy, who also took third place in the team sprint on Friday, told reporters.     

“This is the best I’ve been since Beijing, there’s no question. I hit my fastest lap in the sprint since Beijing and hit my fastest ever speed in the keirin."      

Hoy, however, would not take anything for granted.     

“There’s still a long way to go. Jason’s (Kenny) a formidable opponent. He’s not going to lie down and accept it. He’s going to fight back in Melbourne,” said Hoy.     

“I think he’ll be disappointed about today, but he’s not far away. He was up against Max in the quarter-final, who was the eventual silver medallist. He’s almost there and he’s a crafty rider.”     

Hoy built his success on his quarter-final win against France’s Gregory Bauge, whom he narrowly edged in a nail-biting decider.       

Kenny, however, will still have a chance to impress at the April 4-8 world championships in Melbourne.               

    KENNY CHASING     

“That race is kind of going on in the background, we just concentrate on getting faster,” the 23-year-old Kenny told reporters.     

“The worlds in Melbourne is obviously the main goal before the Olympics.”     

Kenny is confident he is still making progress.     

“I’ve been chasing times a little bit all year. That’s the fastest 200 (metres) I’ve done this year (in Sunday morning’s qualifying session) by quite a margin so I’m pleased in that respect,” he said.      

“I feel like I’m making some good steps forward and hopefully I’ll be pushing all the way.”     

Kenny, however, needs to show he is better than four-times Olympic champion Hoy.     

“Chris is obviously on amazing form here, he’s looking really strong,” he said.      

“He did a good ride in the end against Bauge, slipped up a little bit in the first one and I think he just gets stronger and stronger throughout the day.”      

Hoy, who won three gold medals at the Beijing Games, took the quarter-final decider against Bauge in dramatic fashion before outpowering German Robert Foerstemann 2-0 in the semi-final.     

Bauge and Hoy had to re-start after the Frenchman was adjudged to have rolled backwards from a standstill position.     

Hoy stole the inside line and held off Bauge in the home straight, being declared the winner after a photo finish to trigger deafening roars from the partisan crowd.     

The semi-final was an anti-climax as Hoy had way too much power for Foerstemann, who later claimed bronze by beating France’s Kevin Sireau, the 200 metres flying start world record holder.

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