PETALING JAYA: The return of Beijing Olympic triple champion Chris Hoy to track action could derail Azizul Hasni Awang’s hopes of making a roaring start to his World Cup campaign in Manchester next weekend.
Hoy headlined a 19-member strong British squad named on Tuesday for the opening round of the championships.
It will be Hoy’s first international competition since he crashed in the keirin race at the final round of the previous World Cup season in Copenhagen and subsequently missed the World Championships in Poland.
The 21-year-old Azizul will certainly be relishing the chance to square off against the formidable Hoy since their last meeting in the Beijing Olympic last year.
Azizul was beaten in both heats by Hoy in the 200m sprint quarter-finals but he has certainly emerged stronger from the experience.
Azizul went on to win the World Cup legs in Melbourne and Beijing to knock off Hoy from the top of the world rankings before his historic silver medal effort in the world championships.
Azizul will renew his partnership with the Australian-based BT (Bike Technologies) trade team and will be take part in the keirin and 200m sprint in the World Cup season-opening round.
The Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) deputy president, Datuk Naim Mohamad, said: “This is the first major championships of the season and if he is able to cope with his studies and training, I don’t see any reason for him not being among the medal contenders.
“We can expect very strong competition, especially from the British riders, who will be looking to shine in their own backyard.”
With Azizul riding for a trade team, another Malaysian rider will get to compete in the keirin event.
Hafiz Sufian, who took silver at the Asian championships in Indonesia in August, will be in the fray and he is also down for the 1km time trial.
Each country can only have one rider for the keirin and 1km time trial at the World Cup.
Hafiz will combine with Mohd Edrus Yunus and Hariff Salleh for the team sprint.
“We will test this new combination and we hope they can maintain our current top 10 rankings in the world,” said Naim.
World junior championships bronze medallist Adiq Husainie Othman will be making his World Cup debut together with Amir Mustafa Rosli for the track endurance events. Adiq and Amir will do the scratch and points races and also team up for the madison.
Fatehah Mustafa, the only woman in the seven-member Malaysian squad, will race in the 200m sprint, 500m time trial and keirin.