Cycling: Golden finish for smiling assassin Trott

Laura takes plaudits but Hoy's Olympics sprint slot up for grabs as Kenny relegates him to third

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Chris Hoy was supposed to be British cycling's star attraction at the Olympics but increasingly Laura Trott looks like taking the plaudits in London after picking up her second world title in just three days.

Trott was just nine when Hoy won the first of his 10 rainbow jerseys but the 19-year-old was in imperious form in the women's omnium while Hoy's Games ambitions took an almighty dent.

The Scot is vying for Britain's solitary men's sprint spot at the Olympics with Jason Kenny but was twice outwitted by his younger teammate in their semi-final, leaving a selection dilemma for the British coaches in the ensuing weeks.

Only illness or injury could plausibly stand in Trott's way of being selected in both the team pursuit and the tactical omnium, which she dominated against far more experienced rivals.

After her gold, Britain's fifth of the championships, Shane Sutton, head coach of the British team, said: "She's going to take some beating."

It would be hard to disagree. In last year's omnium she finished 11th, by the time of February's Track World Cup in London she had won bronze, and now she is the world champion. In London she had been let down by the points race; in Melbourne there appeared to be no chinks in her armour. Arguably the highlight was Friday's elimination race as Trott, so bubbly off the track, turned into the smiling assassin, picking off weaker opponents one by one.

She began yesterday tied at the top of the points but moved ahead with the third-quickest time in the individual pursuit despite what she later admitted had been a sleepless night worrying about the permutations of the second day of omnium action.

It was a lead she maintained with a tactical 13th in the scratch race in which she watched her closest rival, Annette Edmondson, of Australia, like a hawk. It set up a ride-off between the pair in the final heat of the 500m time trial, Trott's favourite event. All the Briton needed to do was stay ahead of Edmondson but she topped the times to add to the team pursuit gold she had won on Thursday.

Trott said: "I didn't expect to win. I thought maybe I'd pick up a medal because I had been in the World Cups but to win, what more can I ask for?

"I had barely any sleep last night. I've never been winning going into day two. My head was going round – what if it happens? What if I crash in the scratch race? It will be all over. I feel a lot better now."

Almost like the marking of the old and new guard of the sport, she passed Victoria Pendleton on the steps to the track after her gold-medal win, Pendleton passing on her congratulations. It was a day to forget for the 31-year-old, who, bruised and battered from her fall on Friday, failed to have the legs on her fourth straight day of racing to reach the keirin final.

Hoy was similarly sluggish at points but came away with a bronze medal in the sprint. He was paired against his Melbourne room-mate Kenny in the last four, pitting the Olympic champion against the world champion in what, to all intents and purposes, was a battle for their ticket to the Games.

A new ruling for the Olympics means that only one rider per nation per event can compete at the Games, a farcical decision that will diminish the quality of certain events.

Kenny led the first all-British encounter, just holding the inside line for the win, and when the pair returned to the track Kenny was a more comfortable winner, reeling in Hoy and passing him to the line in what will be the last race between them before selection. Both had similar responses in terms of the dilemma now facing the British coaches. Kenny said: "It's not my problem any more. I concentrated on going quick selection-wise. I'll leave it with them and see."

Hoy, who described the last two days as the "greatest-ever sprint competition", added: "My work here is done. It's up to the selectors, to Shane and the coaches to look at the information, the data and all the figures."

Whichever one gets the nod, the gold looks a hard ask, such was the strength of the Frenchman Gregory Baugé's riding. He comfortably won his first encounter with Kenny and was crowned world champion when the Englishman, who made an all-or-nothing early break for the line, was relegated in their second meeting.

Baugé has now won every sprint world title since the Beijing Olympics, but was stripped of last year's crown following a backdated suspension for missing doping tests.

Comments