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Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Thursday, 17 February 2011

Sir Chris Hoy delighted by GB track cycling team spirit

Track World Cup, Manchester
Venue: Manchester Velodrome Dates: 18-20 February
Coverage: Watch live all three days on BBC red button and online (UK only) and BBC Two on Sunday; listen on 5 live sports extra; full coverage details here


Hoy shrugs off 2012 pressure

By Marc Vesty

Sir Chris Hoy says the atmosphere in the British Cycling team is the best it has been since the Beijing Olympics.

Hoy is among six Olympic champions set to ride for the GB team at the World Cup in Manchester from 18-20 February.

Three-time gold medal winner Bradley Wiggins returns for the first time since 2008, while Victoria Pendleton will also race in the three-day event.

Hoy said: "Aside from Beijing, I've not felt this excitement and team spirit. It's great to have the big boys back."

Fellow Beijing gold medallists Geraint Thomas, Jason Kenny and Ed Clancy are also set to line up at their home velodrome as part of a near full-strength GB team.

Of the nine track-cycling Olympic gold medallists from 2008, three will miss out in Manchester with Rebecca Romero struggling with a back injury, while Jamie Staff and Paul Manning have retired.

Hoy, 34, added: "There's a feeling in the team now which I haven't felt since March 2008 when the World Championships were in Manchester.

We are back for a reason. The Olympics are a year and a half away and everyone is fully focused on that. This is really where it starts now

Bradley Wiggins

"All of the Beijing crew are back so it's a great atmosphere, there's a feeling of anticipation and it's hopefully shaping up to be a great weekend for the British team."

British cycling's performance director Dave Brailsford said the return of Wiggins and Thomas from their regular duties with Team Sky's road racing outfit had given the whole squad a boost.

"The buzz they have had from having two stars of the track back has been great," said Brailsford.

"To have Brad and Geraint back has been super. They've enjoyed it, the lads have enjoyed it and I think it's been good for the squad.

"They are looking to enjoy themselves, really get out there and race hard, which is what they are all about and I think the ripples from that go right the way through the squad."

Wiggins, 29, who won individual pursuit gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics before adding gold in individual and team pursuits in Beijing four years later, will join Thomas, Clancy, Steven Burke and Andy Tennant in the squad for the, 4km team pursuit on Sunday.

"It's been a real breath of fresh air for me, a real break from the road," said Wiggins, who finished fourth in the Tour de France in 2009 but a disappointing 40th in 2010.

Brailsford wants stars to impress

"It's just good being back with the boys and not taking it too seriously at all, it's such a world away from the Tour de France and how stressful that is so it's really good.

"At the moment, me and Geraint coming back to the team pursuit has been great and everyone has had a lift with the amount of numbers we have had at the track and it's exciting.

"This was that first process of getting back in the track squad, training with them through the winter and then doing a competition.

"We are back for a reason. The Olympics are a year and a half away and everyone is fully focused on that. This is really where it starts. Beijing has gone now and it's a great feeling."

Hoy will open his campaign on Friday in the men's sprint and will also ride the keirin on Saturday and team sprint on Sunday, where he will be second man in a line-up with first man Kenny and third man Matt Crampton.

Pendleton will also compete in three events, riding in the keirin, individual sprint and two-woman, two-lap team sprint alongside BMX ace Shanaze Reade, with whom she won back-to-back world titles in 2007 and 2008.

The pair will race for Sky Track Cycling against GB's Becky James and Jess Varnish, who Pendleton has been teamed with successfully at previous World Cups.

Paralympic gold medallist Sarah Storey will compete for GB in the women's team pursuit on Friday, along with Wendy Houvenaghel and Joanna Rowsell as she attempts to qualify for both the Olympic Games and Paralympics in London.

Elsewhere, Ben Swift and Lizzie Armitstead will represent GB in the omnium events.

The likes of Pendleton, Hoy and other leading Great Britain riders have already competed in World Cup events in Australia and Colombia this season, as they aim to gain points as early as possible to avoid disrupting their 2012 Olympic training regimes with long-haul flights.

The UCI, cycling's governing body, will use the best results from all eligible riders across the 2011 and 2012 World Championships, World Cup Classics between 2010 and 2012, and the last two Continental Championships, to decide which countries qualify for each event at the Olympics.

Friday 18 February:

Men's Sprint: Sir Chris Hoy (Sky Track Cycling), Jason Kenny (Sky Track Cycling)

Men's Omnium: Ben Swift (GB)

Women's Team Pursuit: Wendy Houvenaghel, Joanna Rowsell, Sarah Storey (GB)
Katie Colclough, Dani King, Laura Trott, Claire Galloway (100%ME)

Men's Individual Pursuit: Geraint Thomas (GB)

Women's Team Sprint: Victoria Pendleton and Shanaze Reade (Sky Track Cycling)
Becky James and Jess Varnish (GB)

Saturday 19 February:

Women's Sprint: Victoria Pendleton (Sky Track Cycling), Becky James (GB), Jess Varnish (GB)

Women's Omnium: Lizzie Armitstead (GB)

Men's Keirin: Sir Chris Hoy (Sky Track Cycling)

Women's Scratch Race: Laura Trott (100%ME)

Men's Omnium: Ben Swift (GB)

Sunday 20 February:

Men's Team Sprint: Sir Chris Hoy, Matt Crampton, Ross Edgar, Jason Kenny (Sky Track Cycling)

Women's Omnium: Lizzie Armitstead (GB)

Women's Keirin: Victoria Pendleton (Sky Track Cycling), Becky James (GB), Jess Varnish (GB)

Men's Team Pursuit: Steven Burke, Ed Clancy, Andy Tennant, Geraint Thomas, Bradley Wiggins (GB)

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see also
London 2012 day by day
13 Mar 11 |  London 2012
Pendleton admits to 2012 pressure
17 Feb 11 |  Cycling
Injured Romero out of Manchester
14 Feb 11 |  Cycling
Wiggins returns in strong GB team
29 Jan 11 |  Cycling
Storey begins double Olympic bid
10 Feb 11 |  Cycling
Cooke targets second 2012 event
10 Jan 11 |  Cycling
Wiggins set for return to track
16 Jan 11 |  Cycling

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