Exclusive: Clancy’s love of cycling and a bit of luck could help him match Hoy

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Yorkshire’s most successful athlete of London 2012 says he has the appetite and desire to go on winning medals at the next two Olympics.

Track cyclist Ed Clancy made it back-to-back gold medals in the team pursuit and added a bonus bronze in the omnium last weekend to take his overall tally to three medals from two Games.

He was one of the many success stories of another remarkable performance by British Cycling and has been getting used to the increased attention from a public inspired by the triumphant deeds of the home athletes over the past two weeks.

Such adulation is new territory for the Barnsley-born 27-year-old, with the limelight usually reserved for track cycling’s king and queen, Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton.

Hoy is the standard bearer for British cycling but at 36 may not be competing in four years in Brazil.

The stage is set for a new titan of the boards and triple medallist Clancy says he will gladly get used to the increased interest if it is a direct result of him winning more Olympic titles.

“I’m sat here with two golds and a bronze, but I’ve still got a long way to go to catch Chris,” said Clancy, of the six golds Hoy has won.

“Maybe if I get lucky in Rio and the next Games then I can catch him.

“But I’ve still got a couple more Olympics left in me, if I stay lucky. Because you never know what can happen. The team pursuit is a very competitive discipline.

“It won’t be easy, nothing in sport ever is or should be.

“And if I get another gold, fantastic. If not, no worries.

“This increased attention is not something I want all the time, but for the time being it’s nice.

“Then again, it certainly won’t stop me racing.”

His desire for more stems from the sheer satisfaction he gets from the simple act of riding his bike.

Clancy said: “Some people are driven by winning gold medals and fame and fortune. That’s a small part of it for me.

“The main thing is I just like riding my bike.

“Even if I was scraping around for a living on a road racing team I’d still be happy, because I love riding my bike.

“I know that cycling and sport doesn’t always feel like it does right now, but I seriously would be happy even if all I was doing was just scraping a living.”

His options for the next Olympic cycle are varied and he will not be rushed into a decision.

Such is the focus that British Cycling put on the quadrennial Games that it does not matter how Clancy fills his time over the coming years, so long as he is ready to roll again in Rio.

“They’ll put me under no pressure whatsoever. As far as they’re concerned they’d be happy if I just turned up at Rio in 2016 and won again,” said Clancy.

“I could keep on doing what I’m doing, splitting my time between the road and the team pursuit, or I could look at riding the team sprint and the individual kilo (1,000m) because there’s talk of that returning in the next Olympics.

“The same goes for the road; I could spend a year totally dedicating myself to the road.

“I’ll never be a Mark Cavendish or a Bradley Wiggins, I’d just be middle of the pack.

“But the question for me there is do I want to be away from home living in hotels in Belgium and France for a year? I’m a man who likes his home comforts.

“Right now, though, if I make a decision it will be based on emotions and that’s not the way to do it. Whatever happens I’ve got to be happy.”

Since his phenomenal stretch of racing last week, when he competed in nine races and won five – all three in the team pursuit plus two out of six in the omnium – Clancy has got his first taste of stardom. “After Beijing people recognised me now and then, but it was mainly people in the cycling world,” said Clancy, who was raised in Huddersfield.

“It’s been totally different this time, although that owes a lot to the Olympic buzz at the moment.

“I left the Olympic Village for the first time on Wednesday and I was practically mugged at Paddington Station.

“People want to see your gold medal, they want their photograph taken with you.

“I went to see my parents in the Cotswolds and 200 people came to the house to see me, wish me well and see the medal.

“Then I went to the supermarket near my home in Newton Willows and had it all again.

“It’s fun, but I’m sure it will die down. After a few months people outside the cycling world won’t recognise me.”

Reflecting on his success at the velodrome, in which defending the team pursuit title was his primary aim, Clancy says winning bronze in the omnium was a source of great pride.

He said: “If things had have gone differently in the bunch races then I might have got gold.

“But equally when you look at all the riders on the start list, of the 18 guys, 10 of them had won world titles, European titles or World Cup races.

“Some of them are specialists in the omnium and hadn’t competed in the team pursuit.

“So overall, considering all that, I’m really pleased with how everything went in London.”


More Olympic Games reports and pictures: Pages 2-4.