Time on Clancy’s side as options begin to open up

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It is a testament to how highly he is regarded that Ed Clancy is the man tasked with filling Sir Chris Hoy’s shoes tonight.

Yorkshire’s double Olympic champion has had bestowed on him the honour of taking Hoy’s seat in the team sprint in the first World Cup meet of the winter in Glasgow.

It is uncharted territory for the 27-year-old who was born in Barnsley, raised in Huddersfield, and now regarded as one of the finest team pursuiters in the world.

But as he fast approaches the second half of a career that was highlighted by a second team pursuit gold and omnium bronze in London, Clancy is wisely looking at what other avenues he can explore.

He told the Yorkshire Post just days after his medal double on the boards in London that he felt he had two more Olympics in him.

That would take him up to 35, and at the rate he is winning medals at the Games, he is as well-placed as any man to equal, if not better, the tally of seven that Hoy has won.

Hoy, who is 37 next March, has ruled out a fifth Olympics in Rio with his swansong scheduled to be the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

He is the team sprint king, but as he sits out the first major meet since London, the man tasked with attempting to continue that trio’s dominance is Clancy.

This experimental ride alongside Jason Kenny and Philip Hindes is by no means a concrete partnership going forward.

Clancy has already said that if he enjoys it he will continue on in the three-man, three lap event, but will gladly go back to the team pursuit if it does not go as planned. Clancy lives for the thrill of the 4,000m team pursuit.

But with the 2013 world championships in Minsk, Belarus, in February already in mind, this team sprint experiment could have three months to run, and could end in a world title tilt for Clancy.

The Yorkshireman already has global crowns in the team pursuit and omnium, and could also go for another in the 1km individual time trial as well, such was the strength of the time he set en route to winning omnium bronze back in August.

Two more world titles could well set him up as the man to dominate the British track cycling scene in the wake of Hoy’s expected departure.

Not that Clancy wants to compare himself to the great Scot, who will not be in attendance for this evening’s team sprint in the first international competition at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.

“To try to compare yourself to Chris Hoy, you’re only ever going to fail,” said Clancy. “I’m having an alright career so far and I haven’t won a third of the stuff he has.

“I just try to be myself and do the best I can. I’m not going to fill his shoes, it’s a hard job.”

Clancy’s speed has long been impressive, his proficiency highlighted during the six-discipline omnium.

“I’ve always been pretty quick, but it’s all relative,” added Clancy, who is concerned he will lose contact with Hindes and Kenny from the start. “I’m really quick compared to the other endurance guys, like Geraint Thomas and Pete Kennaugh, but I come into the team sprint and it’s like a completely different sport.”

Whether the team sprint represents his future beyond the next three months is something Clancy will remain open-minded about.

“If it goes really well then you have to start thinking is this what I want to do?” he said.

“Do I want to go back to the team pursuit because we know we can do well at that? Or can we try and do both? And if so will that fit in with the road racing and so on with my team there?

“But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

Hoy reinvented himself from kilo rider to sprinter post-Athens, winning sprint, team sprint and keirin gold in Beijing in 2008. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Clancy could do similar.

Ever the modest team man, Clancy, who hopes to continue riding the kilo up until the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, is playing down his prospects.

“In terms of riding the sprint, I don’t think I’ll ever have that fast-twitch kick about me,” he said.

“Sprint and keirin would be one step too far, but who knows?

“If it does go really well then I’ll consider, perhaps over time, leaving team pursuit alone and trying to ride the keirin as well and go from there.”

nick.westby@ypn.co.uk

Twitter: @NWestbyYPSport