Hoy vs Kenny: British cycling's big dilemma

Feb. 15, 2012, 3:39 p.m. (ET)

LONDON(AP) The selection dilemma would give most cycling coaches a headache.

With one spot available, do you pick one of your country's greatest Olympians or his younger rival and the current world champion in his discipline?

British Cycling head coach Shane Sutton is relishing the selection problem, weighing whether to choose three-time gold medalist Chris Hoy or Jason Kenny for Britain's only slot in the sprint at the London Games.

“It's a beautiful situation to be in,” Sutton said. “Given what I've seen from Sir Chris of late, he's coming back to his best. Then again, Jason's on fire. So it's going to be a tough decision and there is no dead-set formula.”

Hoy and Kenny, close friends off the track, will compete this week at the venue for cycling at the Olympics. A victory at the Track World Cup event at the London velodrome starting Thursday will give one a potential edge before the final decision.

“We are teammates, above all else,” said Kenny, who finished behind Hoy in the sprint competition in Beijing. “We have yet to fall out over it yet.”

Ditching Hoy may upset the British public given his achievements four years ago.

By winning gold in the sprint, team sprint and keirin, the 35-year-old Scot became Britain's most successful Olympic male cyclist and the first Briton to win three gold medals in a single Olympic games since 1908.

Since 2008, he has been the face of a well-known cereal brand in Britain. He was awarded a knighthood in 2009. A javelin train named after Hoy will rush spectators across London during the summer games.

However, past exploits count for nothing when Sutton makes his pick. Countries can only enter one rider in individual events.

So he's created a colored-coded graph on the best riders.

“You don't look at the person, you look at the numbers,” Sutton said. “What we do is get a graph and all there is, say for team pursuit, are four different colors. That's all you've got. You're just seeing the speeds, the powers, all the traces that you need to see.”

The 23-year-old Kenny was crowned world champion last month after Gregory Bauge of France received a ban for missing a drugs test. Kenny is described as a more natural racer, while Hoy is all about power.

“You've got a very speedy, young athlete, super-fast athlete, current world champion,” Sutton said. “Then you've got the great Sir Chris Hoy, triple-Olympic champion, power to burn.

“You've got power versus speed, so how do you pick?”

The final of the men's sprint will be held on Sunday.

“At the end of the day, you race as hard as you can,” Hoy said. “It's war on the track but as soon as it's finished, you shake hands.”