Published: 24 July 2012
Report: Scott Hobro
British Cycling Olympic Mountain Bike coach Phil Dixon has backed Liam Killeen to use his previous Games experience to give him an edge in the elite men’s mountain bike cross-country event at Hadleigh Park.
For Killeen London will be a third Olympic Games, having competed at Athens in 2004 where he finished fifth and then in Beijing in 2008, where he crashed heavily 150m into the race before recovering to end in seventh.
At the National Mountain Bike Cross-Country Championships on Sunday, Killeen won his fifth successive elite men’s title as he continues his run-up to the Games.
The 30-year-old, who picked up gold at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, finished 37th and 20th respectively at the Mont Sainte Anne Canada and Windham USA rounds of the UCI Mountain Bike Cross-Country World Cup in June. The results were just outside his season best in the competition, a 19th place finish at Nove Mesto Na Morave Czech Republic but his coach Phil Dixon thinks his Olympic know-how could be decisive on 12 August.
“It’s his third Olympic Games, he has got a massive amount of experience and he has got a lot of quality. He was disappointed with how the US and Canadian world cups went for him. It didn’t quite go as he would like, he wanted a little bit more,” Dixon said.
“He came away with a 37th and a 20th, in terms of result they don’t show a lot of progression but he actually got two really good workouts there. He has two Olympic Games under his belt and it doesn’t matter what riders have done in the last six months. On the day of the Olympic Games it is which riders make the least mistakes, which rider handles the pressure best, who has prepared the most - it’s a unique event and he is confident going into these Games.
“He is in a good place, the results he has shown this season wouldn’t show him medal competitive at this point but I do believe he is in a good place and the experience will tell with him.
“As a 22-year-old at the Olympic Games he was fifth, in the last one he was seventh with that incident at the start and he was fourth in the elite men’s world championships in 2008. He’s got class in there and he needs to find it in the next few weeks and hopefully show the nation.”
British Cycling Podium Programme’s Killeen, along with Academy rider Annie Last, have been preparing at a camp in Switzerland before they will compete in the Val d'Isère, France round of the world cup on the 28-29 June 2012 – their last races before the Games and a final chance Killeen to fine-tune in a world-class event.
“He is feeling better and better in his training, again he is on a similar programme to Annie. He had an active rest week, he’s now starting his preparations for the last UCI World Cup event in Val d'Isère on the opening weekend of the Games, that will be his last race and it’s at altitude. They’ve both got a real good tester.”
The elite men’s mountain bike cross-country race takes place on Sunday 12 August 2012 starting at 1.30pm whilst the women’s event is a day earlier, Saturday 11 August, starting at 12.30pm.