Cycling: Coach bullish over team sprint hopes at Olympics

Head coach Shane Sutton is confident Great Britain have time to resolve the struggles which threaten Sir Chris Hoy’s bid to defend one of his three Olympic gold medals.

Hoy appeared imperious in his individual events at February’s London Track World Cup, winning the sprint and Keirin at the Olympic Velodrome, but Britain are still to deliver in the three-man, three-lap team sprint. Sutton, though, is bullish ahead of this week’s Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne, using 2008 as an example.

He said: “Don’t forget we were half a second behind the French in Manchester at the worlds in 2008 and we beat them by half a second in the final in Beijing. Don’t underestimate our abilities.”

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The main issue in the team sprint centres on the starting position which Britain have struggled to fill since Olympic champion Jamie Staff retired. Staff combined with Jason Kenny and four-time Olympic champion Hoy to win gold in Beijing and there has been experimentation in the line-up since.

Ross Edgar was the starting rider in London in February, but has been omitted from the squad for Melbourne, with Kenny set to start and Matt Crampton and Hoy fulfilling the remaining berths. Sutton is adamant Edgar is not out of Olympic contention.

“We probably weren’t as good as we’d like to have been, but we could also put that down to the phase we were in,” Sutton added. “I thought Ross did a pretty good job considering the amount of time he’d had training for man one and we’ve got two of the best bike riders in the world behind him.”

Melbourne is likely to have a big say in selection for the Olympics, with Hoy and Kenny’s battle for the one individual sprint berth among the most intriguing. The duo are gold and silver medallists from Beijing, yet only one can take part in the London Games.