Hoy finds impossible gap to win keirin world championship
Event: UCI Track Cycling World Championships men's keirin
When: 8 April 2012
Where: Hisense Arena, Melbourne, Australia
How it unfolded
Hoy started the final last man behind the derny, with teammate Kenny third wheel. After the derny left the track, Hoy moved up on to Kenny’s wheel. However, as the race reached its climax, Kenny laid off the wheels of race leaders German Max Levy and Kiwi Simon Van Velthooven, who both kicked early and gapped the GB pair.
With a lap to go, all looked lost for Hoy as he struggled to come round Kenny with the leading duo still a couple of bike-lengths clear.
"I’ve never done that before in my life, going up the inside. It’s a real last chance saloon. I couldn’t believe the door opened and I managed to get through."
Sir Chris Hoy
Down the back straight, Kenny moved up onto the shoulder of Van Velthooven, who was in turn trying to go round Levy. Hoy was faced with coming round all three in the final quarter of a lap. It looked like race over. But Hoy suddenly changed tack, diving down to the inside of the track. That gave him a burst of speed which took him alongside Levy as Van Velthooven, perhaps sensing Hoy’s presence or even receiving a nudge for the Scot, flared up the track.
That opened a gap for Hoy to burst through and he moved alongside Levy as the pair approached the line, with Hoy’s greater momentum taking him over the line first. It looked close, but Hoy was celebrating immediately. He knew he’d got it!
What they said
After the race Hoy was clearly in shock: “I’d given up. I thought the chance of winning had gone by the time I hit the back straight on the last lap. I waited behind Jason, I thought he would go with everything, and he didn’t. He hesitated too long, I think.
"Normally I would have gone round the outside and put my foot down but that had killed my run a bit so it was one last chance. I’ve never done that before in my life, going up the inside. It’s a real last chance saloon. I couldn’t believe the door opened and I managed to get through.
"It’s the last meaningful race I’ll have before the Olympic Games, so it’s a great one to give me that confidence boost.”
Why should this be the British Cycling's Ride of the Year 2012?
Hoy won this race with a move which appeared to surprised him as much as it did his rivals. But, whilst there was certainly an element of luck involved, if you watch footage of the race carefully, Hoy’s move in that final bend is quite deliberate and shows a remarkable speed and clarity of thought.
After questioning his own motivation a couple of days earlier in the sprint, defeat in the keirin would have given Hoy a lot to do to rebuild his confidence ahead of the Olympics. As it was, this spectacular win was just the boost he needed ahead of the Games.