Hoy handed knighthood

On January 6, 2009 by

The cycling legend, Chris Hoy, has followed up his success at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards ceremony by being named in the New Year’s Honours list.

The cyclist, who is thirty-two years of age, will receive a knighthood as recognition of his success at the Olympics last year. Hoy won a total of three gold medals in Beijing. The Scottish cyclist revealed that being named on the list was a “huge honour” and extremely “unexpected”. Furthermore, Hoy believes that it is the perfect way "to end the year”.

Hoy’s delight was intensified by the fact that his mother was appointed MBE (which her son achieved in 2005) in recognition of her work as a nurse in Edinburgh. Hoy’s mother, who revealed that she was “blown away” by her son’s achievements, worked in a sleep lab which has performed many studies and released important new research during recent years.

The typically modest cyclist was keen to emphasise the importance of his achievement for the wider world of cycling in the UK. Hoy believes that he has always done what he can to “promote the sport” because he has such a passion for it. He now thinks that the consequences of his knighthood will have a positive impact upon the sport.

Sporting experts believe that the knighthood will propel Hoy to another level of fame and increase attention from companies keen to put his face at the forefront of their advertising campaigns. His income from sponsors is set to rise massively over the next few months.

Looking back on Britain’s bumper cycling year

On January 5, 2009 by

What a year 2008 was for the British cycling team! Whether it was the World Track Championships in Manchester, the Tour De France or the Olympic Games in Beijing, Britain’s cyclists swept all before them.

Looking back, it is hard to believe that Chris Hoy’s golden year began with disappointment. In the World Track Championships in March, Hoy lost out in his first event, the Team Sprint. However, the Scotsman prevailed in his solo events, the Sprint and the Keirin, and came away from the event as a mere double World Champion!

It was Bradley Wiggins and not Hoy who picked up three gold medals in Manchester, triumphing in the Individual Pursuit, the Team Pursuit and the Madison. The Madison was Wiggins’ partner Mark Cavendish’s first major success of the year and kick-started an outstanding season for the rider from the Isle of Man.

Victoria Pendleton shone in the women’s events claiming world titles in the Sprint and Team Sprint and a silver medal in the Keirin. Unfortunately for her, only one of these events, the Sprint, appears on the Olympic schedule so she would only be in with a chance of a single gold medal in Beijing.

The World Championships was also the stage on which Rebecca Romero burst onto the international scene by winning the Individual Pursuit. A year previously Romero was a World silver medallist in the event. Her victory in Manchester set the Athens Olympic rowing medallist up nicely in her quest for gold in Beijing.

June 2008 saw British cycling fans’ attention turn to Italy and the Giro D’Italia, one of the three ‘Grand Tours’. Mark Cavendish didn’t wait long before making his mark on the event with victory on the 4th stage of the event. He followed this success with another victory on stage 13. Cavendish became only the third Brit to take a stage win in the Giro and is the first since 1987.

July in the cycling world means only one thing: the Tour De France. Cavendish was hoping to repeat his Giro D’Italia success in the world’s most famous race. Not only did he match his Giro success – he doubled it. The Manxman sprinted his way to a remarkable 4 stage wins. This was an absolutely phenomenal return in such a competitive bike race. In 2008 Mark Cavendish announced himself as one of the world’s fastest men on two wheels and, at the age of only 23, looks set to spend many years at the top of the sport.

And so to the Olympics in Beijing in August where coach David Brailsford assembled a cycling team which amassed 14 medals including 8 gold medals. Nicole Cooke continued her magnificent career by winning Britain’s first gold medal of the games in the Women’s Road Race. Then attention turned to the velodrome.

Chris Hoy made the headlines by becoming the first Briton in a century to win 3 gold medals at the same games. Victorious in the Team Sprint and the Keirin, Hoy also won the Sprint event ahead of team-mate Jason Kenny in 2nd place.

Another British one-two occurred in the Women’s Individual Pursuit event where Rebecca Romero overcame Wendy Houvenaghel in the final. Bradley Wiggins took home a pair of gold medals, winning the Team Pursuit and Individual Pursuit events. Fellow Brit, Steven Burke, picked up a surprise bronze medal in the Individual Pursuit. Victoria Pendleton picked up Britain’s 8th and final cycling gold medal in the Women’s Sprint.

Britain’s Paralympians followed these achievements by picking up a staggering 19 gold medals. Darren Kenny was the pick of the team with 5 medals including 4 golds. Mark Bristow, Jody Cundy, Anthony Kappes, Aileen McGlynn, Simon Richardson, David Stone and Sarah Storey each won two gold medals.

Yet more British success was to come at the Road World Championships held in Italy in September. Nicole Cooke followed her Olympic success with a superb victory on the road and in so doing became the first cyclist ever to win the Olympic road race and Road World Championship in the same season.

At the end of 2008 Chris Hoy (or should I say Sir Chris Hoy?) is picking up all the plaudits but who has had the best year in British cycling? Without belittling Hoy’s achievements, the exploits of Mark Cavendish and Nicole Cooke are surely more impressive within their sport. Cooke has accomplished something that the male or female cycling world has never seen before and Cavendish won 17 major road races, more than any other rider in 2008, and has become one of the world’s most exciting road race sprinters. But people like to be able to quantify success easily and in 2008, to those outside the cycling community, Hoy’s 3 gold medals beat Cooke’s 1 and Cavendish’s zero.

So it’s honours all round for Britain’s cyclists and coach David Brailsford as we enter 2009. Track cycling will take a back seat with no Olympic Games to keep it in the public eye. Next year looks set to be the year of road racing. In Mark Cavendish, Britain has a real talent who can dominate the flat stages in the Grand Tours and better his 2008 results. In a year in which the Tour De France will be big news with the return of Lance Armstrong, Cavendish could be propelled to superstardom.

Shane Sutton named coach of the year

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Shane Sutton, the cycling coach who was such a significant part of the successful British team at this year’s Olympic Games, has been rewarded for his efforts with the coach of the year accolade.

He was named coach of the year at the UK coaching awards, an event which also recognised the efforts of Duncan Parniss, the hockey coach who was named young coach of the year, and John Jacobs OBE, the golf coach who was handed the lifetime achievement award.

Sutton, who is fifty-one years of age, helped to hone the skills of Britain’s best cyclists throughout the year. The physical fitness and tactical awareness of Britain’s cyclists were apparent at both the Olympic Games and the World Championships.

British cyclists have been vocal in their support for the coach, with Bradley Wiggins, the cycling legend, stating that Sutton is the heart and soul of cycling in the United Kingdom, and Dave Brailsford, the performance director for British cycling, revealing that he would be unable to perform his job properly without the support of the magnificent coach.

Sutton has put his success in the world of coaching down to having a “sympathetic ear” and remaining motivated and fully committed to the job. He has a unique ability to recognise the individual characteristics of British cycling’s biggest stars and he knows how to motivate each cyclist differently.

For example, he has coached Bradley Wiggins in such a manner as to allow the cyclist to overcome his “nervous” and “complicated” (to use the words of the coach) personality.

Hoy rewarded for successful year

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Earlier this month, the sporting world was rife with speculation about which outstanding sportsman or woman would be rewarded for their efforts with the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

Fans of Andy Murray believed that he was the obvious winner after such a successful year, whilst fans of British motorsport stated that Lewis Hamilton deserved recognition after making history at such a young age and in such impressive fashion. However, numerous other individuals were also in with a good chance of gaining the award.

It was with some shock that Chris Hoy was handed the accolade during the ceremony, which was held in the middle of December. However, although slightly surprising, nobody was able to say that the award was not fully deserved.

After all, Hoy managed to win three gold medals in the Olympic Games earlier this year, making him the most successful male Olympic cyclist ever. The cyclist revealed that he was “stunned” after being handed the award but perhaps he shouldn’t have been. After all, nearly forty per cent of the members of the public who voted had chosen him as their favourite.

Chris Hoy, who has managed to remain refreshingly humble despite his rapid rise to fame during the past year, spoke of his belief that by voting for him, the public were actually voting for the entire British cycling team. This typical modesty was followed by the touching revelation that winning this award has provided Hoy with one of the highlights of his career.

Hoy adds another award to his collection

On December 2, 2008 by

The golden year for Great Britain’s cycling team continues as triple Olympic gold medallist Chris Hoy has been named 2008 Sportsman of the Year by the Sports Journalists’ Association (SJA) at their annual Sports Awards held in London.

The award, now in its 60th year, recognised a strong year of sporting achievement by British sportsmen with Hoy holding off stiff competition from Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton, tennis ace Andy Murray and sailing star Ben Ainslie.

The ‘Flying Scotsman’ joins a prestigious list of previous winners of the award including such notable Olympians as Sebastian Coe, Daley Thompson, Linford Christie, Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent.

During the Beijing Olympics, Hoy powered his way around the velodrome to gold medals in the individual sprint, the team sprint and the Keirin, becoming the first Briton in a century to win three Olympic titles in a single games.

Team GB’s cyclists dominated their events as they returned home with an amazing 8 gold medals between them and 14 medals in total. Hoy proudly flew the British flag in the closing ceremony: quite an accolade in itself.

Hoy was not the only cyclist to be acknowledged by the SJA with fellow Olympic gold medallists Jason Kenny, Nicole Cooke and Rebecca Romero also winning awards. Paralympic cycling hero, Darren Kenny, took home The Bill McGowran Trophy for the Disabled Sports Personality of the Year.

The award for SJA Sportswoman of the Year 2008 went to the swimmer Rebecca Adlington who won two gold medals in the pool in Beijing. Hoy and Adlington will go head to head in the public vote for the 2008 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award which is to be held in Liverpool on 14th December.

However, both SJA Sports Awards winners may be pipped at the post by Lewis Hamilton who has emerged as the bookmakers’ favourite to triumph at the televised ceremony. Whatever the outcome, no one can deny that Chris Hoy has had a year to remember.

Armstrong expresses concern over Tour attack

On November 20, 2008 by

Lance Armstrong, the American cyclist who is currently making a shock comeback after three years in retirement, has spoken out about his fears of being attacked by angry spectators during the Tour de France next year.

For many years, Armstrong was a dominant force in the world of cycling and he managed to win the Tour de France seven times during his career. However, certain fans of the cyclist lost faith in him after it was claimed that he had used performance enhancing drugs.

Although an independent investigation, which was set up after the French magazine, L’Equipe, revealed that Armstrong’s urine samples had shown traces of the substance called EPO, found the cyclist to be innocent, doubts still remain over the validity of his previous numerous successes.

The cyclist, who is thirty-seven years of age, believes that some people in France remain “aggressive [and] angry” and he is worried that his safety “could be in jeopardy” as a result of such strong feelings. Armstrong has revealed that he understands why people remain uncertain about his past but believes that he has been victimised by the media and the anti-drugs authorities.

Armstrong’s fears are actually based on something which happened during the Tour de France during the 1970s. The Belgian legend, Eddy Merckx, was punched by a French spectator who was unhappy that the cyclist was threatening the record held by the Frenchman, Jacques Anquetil.

Whilst Merckx was cycling along an important part of the route, a spectator broke through the crowd and hit him, an event which denied him a record-breaking victory.

Hamilton and Hoy to go head to head

On November 18, 2008 by

Fans of both cycling and motorsport have been given reason to celebrate after it was announced that Chris Hoy and Lewis Hamilton will race head to head at Wembley.

Chris Hoy, who is a legend in the world of cycling after winning numerous Olympic medals, will race against Lewis Hamilton, the young British Formula One champion, in a man versus machine event in the middle of December.

The Race of Champions event will see Lewis Hamilton drive a road car manufactured by Mercedes whilst Chris Hoy will race his bicycle around the same circuit.

The Formula One champion, who has barely left the sporting headlines since his famous victory, has revealed his excitement at seeing thousands of fans "for the first time since becoming world champion”. Hamilton believes that the Race of Champions will be a fitting end to his extremely successful year.

Chris Hoy is similarly excited about the prospect of the Wembley event. He believes that although he will struggle to match the car in terms of acceleration, the twisty nature of the circuit may work to his advantage. Hoy thinks that the race will be “close” and is keen to give “absolutely everything” in his attempt to overcome the challenge of Hamilton.

Although the race between Hamilton and Hoy will be the highlight of the evening, the Race of Champions event will also see other legends in the world of motorsport competing against each other. Individuals including Michael Schumacher, Andy Priaulx, and Troy Bayliss will be appearing at Wembley.

British cyclists excel in Manchester

On November 4, 2008 by

A stunning performance by Great Britain’s track cycling squad during the World Cup meeting in Manchester this weekend has left British fans of the sport truly ecstatic. Dave Brailsford’s impressive squad were attempting to accumulate the maximum amount of qualifying points available ahead of next year’s World Championships, scheduled to be hosted by Poland.

The squad managed to win all six finals held on Saturday and the competition was extremely tough. Lizzie Armitstead needed to perform well in order to win the women’s scratch competition and she did not disappoint. She finished the race very strongly, using her outstanding ability to accelerate quickly and unexpectedly to maximum effect.

Armitstead was also in action in the women’s team pursuit on Sunday. Armitstead, Katie Colcough and Joanna Rowsell managed to please the home crowd by beating Germany with a time of just over 3 minutes and 26 seconds.

Lizzie Armitstead, who was making her World Cup debut at the age of 19, was keen to thank her female team mates for providing support: “they’re really friendly, they’re not above us or anything, really kind and make you feel welcome”.

The men’s team pursuit squad, made up of Rob Hayles, Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas and Stephen Burke, managed to overtake Denmark and claim the win. Saturday also saw a good result in the men’s team sprint, with Jamie Staff, Jason Kenny and Ross Edgar performing well to beat Poland.

Chris Newton provided the Manchester crowd with even more excitement. Newton won the points race and then continued to triumph in the 120-lap race. He stated that he had been inspired by the performance of Armitstead and wanted to become part of the British success story of the weekend.

Victoria Pendleton, who had also impressed during Friday’s events, won the time trial in impressive style on Saturday. Sunday saw further fantastic performances from the British squad. A further four gold medals were achieved and Pendleton was once again involved in the success.

She managed to win her third gold in the women’s keirin, overcoming tough competition from Dina Maria Garcia Orrego and Gong Jinjie. Pendleton was pleased with the performance of the female cyclists in Manchester, stating that “it’s so good to see so many girls up here who are very driven and ambitious and they want to be as good as the boys”.

The only real disappointment of the weekend came in the madison event. Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas were unable to beat the German duo of Olaf Pollack and Roger Kluge, and could only manage to finish fifth.

Wiggins had previously spoken of his desire to be successful in this event with new partner Thomas, especially after his disappointment in the madison during the Olympic Games. He believed that the pair had a good chance at winning the event but sadly the competition proved to be too tough.

Fans of cycling will now be looking forward to the next World Cup Classics series, which will be held in Melbourne, Australia, later this month.

Wiggins excited about joining up with Thomas

On October 28, 2008 by

British cycling legend, Bradley Wiggins, has revealed his excitement at riding alongside his new partner, Geraint Thomas, in the Madison in the World Cup. Wiggins, who is a triple Olympic gold medallist, was disappointed not to succeed in the event in Beijing and will hope to put his frustration behind him when the World Cup begins in Manchester on the 31st of October.

The cyclist has had previous success in the Madison event, winning the World Championships with previous partner, Mark Cavendish, earlier this year. However, the Olympic Games brought intense disappointment for the duo, as they only managed to finish in eighth position.

Cavendish was said to be extremely frustrated by the failure and, according to reports, he did not speak to Wiggins for a relatively long time following the Olympic Games.

Wiggins was able to console himself with the other gold medals he managed to win but he is still keen to succeed in the Madison at the World Cup, in order to prove his ability to himself as much as to others.

The cyclist believes that he will stand a real chance of success with Thomas. Whilst the pair may not be on “Olympic form”, Wiggins thinks that “the rest of the world will be the same”.

Cycling fans are relishing the prospect of seeing Wiggins pair up with Thomas during the three-day event in Manchester. Other highlights will include the race involving Ed Clancy and Victoria Pendleton, who were also victorious at the Beijing Olympics. Legend of the sport, Chris Hoy, is also set to make a special guest appearance at the event.

Lance Armstrong reveals views on new Tour de France route

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Cycling legend Lance Armstrong has spoken publicly about his views concerning the 2009 route for the Tour de France. The cyclist, who has won the event an impressive total of seven times, is aiming to win yet another title next year and he was excited to see the changes to the race’s route.

One of the most notable changes concerns the world-famous Mount Ventoux climb, which has surprisingly been delayed until the penultimate section of the race.

Armstrong believes this to be “innovative and very interesting” but he has also revealed that there has been tension and conflict directed towards the organisers of the Tour.

Carlos Sastre, a famous cyclist from Spain, believes that the new route is so difficult and illogical that he has given up any hope of winning the event. However, many sports pundits have praised the decision to move the Mount Ventoux climb, stating that its new position will keep the event interesting and full of suspense.

The race will start in Monte Carlo with a 15 kilometre time trial on the 4th of July, before moving to Marseille for a lengthy 196 kilometre stage. One of the highlights is bound to be the 38 kilometre team time trial scheduled to be held in Montpellier.

Armstrong, who retired from cycling in 2005 before announcing his desire to return to the Tour de France earlier this year, was quick to notice the reintroduction of the team time trial and expressed his excitement at the prospect. The cyclist summed up his mood by stating that he “could not have hoped for a more different Tour”.

The 37-year-old has also been pondering the issue of who will lead the Astana team next year. Armstrong is one of four cyclists who are being considered and the competition is fierce, with the Spaniard Alberto Contador emerging as a hot favourite.

Contador (who has also spoken publicly about his happiness and excitement concerning the new route) won the 2007 Tour de France and has become a true legend in the world of cycling.

The other cyclists in with a chance are Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kloden. Armstrong remained diplomatic when questioned about the impending decision, stating that it is still too early to make an educated guess at the outcome.

Furthermore, the American was quick to reiterate his commitment to the team as a whole and revealed that Astana is “blessed” to have the “strongest team in the world”.

The cyclist is preparing to compete in the Tour Down Under in January before undertaking his first real test since returning to the cycling world, in the Giro d’Italia scheduled for May of next year.

Whether Armstrong ends up competing in the Tour de France remains to be seen. The boss of Astana believes that the cyclist may not be physically fit enough to cope with the challenges of the Tour.

The director of the Tour has refused to speculate on the issue, stating that it is purely Armstrong’s decision whether or not he chooses to attend the event. The director has conceded that the cyclist is “special” but if he arrives in Monaco he will simply be “a rider like others”.

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