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Cycling Track Championships: Sir Chris Hoy marks opening of velodrome

Sir Chris was the main attraction at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome. Picture: Robert Perry

Sir Chris was the main attraction at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome. Picture: Robert Perry

  • by RICHARD MOORE
 

IT MIGHT not all have gone according to the script, but in the final act, in the last race of the opening meeting at the new Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow, the man himself atoned for an earlier defeat in the sprint to win the keirin, an event he has dominated since 2007, and in which he is the world and Olympic champion.

It was a fitting conclusion to a memorable day, with a meeting, branded “Thunderdrome”, that was more about the show than the competition. Or so Hoy had been at pains to point out after his earlier defeat to Germany’s Robert Forstemann in the sprint semi-final, and then a more-surprising loss to his old friend, team-mate and sparring partner Craig MacLean in the ride-off for bronze.

“He’s not getting invited back,” joked Hoy of MacLean. It must have been at least their 100th meeting, for it was with MacLean, of course, that Hoy, more than 20 years ago, set out on a remarkable journey, one that has culminated in him being acclaimed as Britain’s greatest ever Olympian, and now in the eponymous velodrome.

MacLean can make a similar boast, though. In fact, he was the first to have a sports facility named after him, with his native Grantown-on-Spey opening the Craig MacLean leisure centre a few years ago.

As well as marking the opening of a facility that promises so much for the future of track cycling in Scotland, the past was honoured thanks to the appearances of Hoy, MacLean, the 2000 Olympic kilometre champion Jason Queally, and, Graeme Obree.

The former world hour record holder and world champion appeared on a replica of his original bike, Old Faithful, to complete a few laps in the famous tuck position that was so effective it was banned by the world governing body in 1994, a year after he shot to prominence with his hour record in Norway.

Back then Obree was feted throughout Europe, invited to towns and cities to make public appearances and take part in exhibition races, but he has perhaps never had the acclaim in his own country that he had yesterday. The 2,500 crowd cheered him to the sparkling new rafters as he indugled them with a few celebratory laps, and then showed off his latest machine, a recumbent bike on which he hopes to break the world speed record next year.

For Hoy. the experience of racing in an indoor track in Scotland was a novelty after his early years at the Meadowbank velodrome in Edinburgh. “At Meadowbank you never knew if you’d get to race or train. You were always at the mercy of the weather.

“It’s a place very close to my heart, because it’s where I fell in love with track racing, and you can’t beat a sunny day at Meadowbank, but you couldn’t count on those days.” He added: “This is a state-of-the-art velodrome; it’s not just a roof over a track. The facilities are world-class and it’s something we can be very proud of.”

It had him projecting ahead to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, even if he is undecided about competing. “Racing here today does make me more determined to be there,” he said. “I was thinking about it seriously anyway, but you can just imagine: it’ll be awesome. I’m sure they will be the best Commonwealth Games ever.”

 

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