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Sir Chris backs a Brit to win Sunday’s Classic

Sir Chris Hoy hopes to see a British victory after making his Prudential RideLondon debut in the 46-mile sportive on Sunday

Six-time Olympic track champion Sir Chris Hoy is pinning his hopes on a British victory in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic on Sunday, 30 July.

The 202km one-day race has only had one British winner in the four years since it was first held, when Adam Blythe beat his old friend and training partner Ben Swift in 2014, the two Sheffield men fighting out a dramatic sprint finish on The Mall.

Swift was on the podium again a year later when he was third, beaten to the line by BMC’s Jean-Pierre Drucker, while Geraint Thomas almost pulled off a remarkable victory 12 months ago before his brave breakaway was swallowed up inside the last 5km.

But Hoy, who will start, then ride, the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 46 sportive on Sunday morning, believes this could be the year for a second home win as the race takes on UCI WorldTour status for the first time.

“It would be nice to see a British winner,” said Hoy. “It’s a real one for a classic rider, someone who’s got good form and has recovered from the Tour.

“If you haven’t been to the Tour it could be tough to compete against the guys who have recovered well.”

In which case Swift could again be the man to beat, as the former Sky rider made the top 20 in the Tour de France Green Jersey points contest earlier this month in his new colours of UAE-Team Emirates.

As for the Tour’s Green Jersey winner, Michael Matthews, the man picked by Hoy’s former British teammate Mark Cavendish earlier this week, Hoy believes it all depends on the in-form Australian’s will to win.

“I think Michael Matthews would be a good call, if he’s got the motivation,” said Hoy. “But you don’t know how he’s going to feel just coming out of the Tour; whether he’s going to be up for it.

“I think the conditons could be a big factor too. If the weather’s as calm and good as it looks like it’s going to be, I think it’ll be tough to get a solo break. It’s going to come down to a bunch sprint. Matthews could be the man but really, it’s wide open.”

Hoy will have a road-side seat on The Mall for the weekend finale on Sunday evening after riding the 46 miles of the shorter sportive in the morning, an event he will officially start at 09:00.

“It’s going to be exciting,” he said. “I’ve always been away from the action, and I’ve only seen pictures and videos, so it will be a real honour to start it.

“I’m really looking forward to riding it too,” added Hoy of his RideLondon debut. The 11-time world track champion will be handing out bottles at the Hampton Court feed station on his way round the course, and presenting awards at the Finish Line as part of his official duties.

“It’s great, because normally when you come to events like this the demand is to do appearances and talks, and you miss out on all the fun,” he said. “So to get to actually ride it this year is fantastic; I can see what all the fuss is about.”

Hoy organises his own sportive in Cheshire each year, known as the Hoy 100, and is a great believer in the role of mass participation cycling events in growing the sport, and in their future as major fundraising festivals.

“The charity and fundraising side is huge,” he said. “I reckon within five or 10 years’ time RideLondon will be the biggest fundraising event in the world, it will overtake the London Marathon. You can see it’s already heading in that direction.

“Sportives are great because they cater for that wide span of people, those who are really keen and looking to establish a new personal record, and first-timers for whom just making it round the shortest route will be a huge challenge.

“This 46-mile ride is perfect, and with only a couple of little climbs it’s achievable by most people. If they’ve been out on the bike a bit and are comfortable riding and operating the gears, anyone can get round, even if it takes all day.

“And then once they’ve done it, they get the buzz. And once they’ve done it a couple of times, they think they’re ready for the 100. To do 100 miles is a big old challenge, but when they come across the line they’re going to have the biggest smiles on their faces.”

As will Ben Swift if he can finally take Classic victory on home soil, or any other Briton for that matter. Hoy’s hoping.