The Routine: Chris Hoy, Olympic medal-winning track cyclist

Explosive bursts of speed - then I put my feet up
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The Independent Online

What is the highlight of your career so far?

The 1999 World Championships in Berlin, when my team came second. It was such a surprise. We had never come close to winning a medal at world level before. That was a breakthrough year, so it gave us a whole lot of confidence for the Sydney Olympics in 2000. We got our personal best there, but the feeling was more of relief rather than elation, because there was so much build-up and so much pressure. I was just pleased to get it over and done with.

How does a team race unfold?

It's three laps of a 250m track, so it is a very short, explosive race. The three members of the team start together and all ride in a line. After the first lap, the guy at the front swings out of the way and that's his race over. The other two do another lap, after which the second guy swings off. There's just one guy left on the track, and the time is taken when he finishes the last lap. We will reach speeds of 75kph. The world record is 44.2 seconds – we did 44.5 at Sydney.

Do the three team members train differently according to their role?

Definitely. The first guy's race is all about acceleration, trying to get the team up to speed. The second guy has to keep as close to the first rider as possible, so he needs a very high maximum speed. The third man has to have more endurance, to keep it going in the last lap.

What position do you race?

I have just changed position, actually. I was in the first position at the Olympics, but since then I have decided to take the third position. I am training for the individual event – four laps, raced against the clock – and training for third position in the team event is very similar.

How do you develop the ability to achieve quick bursts of speed?

The foundation of your fitness is through strength. We do heavy weights in the gym – like a sprinter in athletics would do. From that you can build power, and from that power you can build speed. We also do a lot of track work on the bike, working on the speed element.

Have you had any major injuries?

I had a bit of a freak accident mid- season. I dropped a glass on my foot and severed my tendon. I was in a plaster cast for about three weeks. I just didn't have the same form at the world championships and I came eighth in the individual event. I was still happy with that, as it was my first time doing the individual event.

Is your diet important?

Yes, especially for recovery after training and racing. My diet is high in carbohydrate, and high in proteins. We eat every two hours and take protein supplements in liquid form for quick absorption. These help you perform at higher intensities for longer. We eat a lot of everything, basically: pasta, rice, chicken and fish.

How do you unwind?

I just try and stay off my feet, so the usual stuff – watching TV. I'm away three or four months of the year, so in my free time I try to catch up with my family and friends in Edinburgh or see my girlfriend, who lives in Manchester (where the national team is based).

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