Mark Cavendish and Sir Bradley Wiggins won’t have it all their own way at London Six Day, but track cycling legend Sir Chris Hoy would still put his money on the British pair to win their final race together on home soil.
Hoy was at the Lee Valley VeloPark to see Cavendish and Wiggins finish the first night of London Six Day in third place, level on laps but 13 points behind surprise leaders, Germany’s Leif Lampater and Marcel Kalz.
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Cavendish finished third in the sprint of the night’s opening Madison chase as Dutchman Wim Stroetinga crossed the line first, with the Brits and the winners two of five teams to take a lap on the field.
And a consistent showing in the night’s other races, the team elimination, Madison 250m time trial and longest lap, left the world champions in a strong position at the end of the night, with Hoy predicting they will emerge victorious on Sunday night.
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“Together they cover all the bases,” said the six-time Olympic champion. “They have the ability to go long, to gain laps and the ability to win sprints with Cav.
“They’re very flexible, they have the experience, nothing phases them, they have home advantage so they have a really good chance of winning. But everybody’s going to be watching them, everyone’s going to be excited.
“As soon as they make a move the crowd will go wild. There’s no surprise in terms of atmosphere or the noise.”
Belgian pairing Moreno de Pauw and Kenny de Ketele won the event last year – Six Day’s return to the capital for the first time in 35 years – and sit second in the standings after the first night, seven points behind their German rivals.
And with Stroetinga and Yoeri Havik in fifth, 15 points behind fourth-place Australian duo Cameron Meyer and Callum Scotson, Hoy thinks this is the strongest Six Day field ever assembled.
“This is the best of the best in the Madison and for the Six Day field, there’s no-one missing,” he added. “The Belgians always do well in the Madison. They’re one of the big names to look out for.
“And the Aussies always seem to hit the ground running. It’s in their nature.
“It’s good to see Cameron Meyer back in, too. He’s a real champion – he’s won so many titles on the road and the track in the past.”
Hoy raced in Six Day events during his own career, but never got the chance to compete in one on British soil.
His retirement came too early for him to figure in last year’s Six Day return, and the cyclist-turned-racing driver admitted to a tinge of jealousy when he watched the action at a packed opening night, on Tuesday.
“It seems bigger and better than last year. All the little suggestions and things that they can think of to improve on last year, they really have done, and more,” he added.
“When you get out of the tunnel into the track centre the atmosphere hits you. As a rider it brings back the memories of racing in the Six Days and, I’ll be honest with you, I’d love to be out there – it’s amazing.
“The reception these riders are getting every time they get on the track, it’s really special.
“The second best thing is being in the track centre, though, with a beer in your hand, having a bit of fun.”
Six Day London takes place between October 25 and 30 at Lee Valley VeloPark on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Half term fun, with or without the kids. Tickets on sale now at sixday.com