Madrid: Four-times Olympic gold medallist Chris Hoy heads to the European track championships this weekend promising a cagey start to his preparations for the London 2012 Games.
The Europeans in Poland, previously an under-23 and junior competition, is the first qualification event for the London Olympics but for Hoy the world championships next March is his big target for the season.
"It wouldn`t be sensible to come into a long track season with all guns blazing," Hoy told reporters in a phone interview before boarding a flight to Warsaw on Monday.
"Last year I made that mistake when I was too enthusiastic at the start and paid the price by the end."
"I`ve taken deliberate steps to make sure that doesn`t happen again."
"For example, I`ve been doing long workouts in the gym till much later in my usual build-up schedule, if it was a really big event, I`d have backed off much earlier."
"This time round, I`m going to be slightly cagey," the 34-year-old Scot added.
Hoy skipped last month`s Commonwealth Games in New Delhi to concentrate on the Europeans where he will ride in the sprint events.
"It`s basically going to be like a world championships without the Australians," he said.
"It`s very important to start off for the Olympics on the right foot, and the Europeans are our first step towards qualification for London 2012."
"If we make a strong start, we`ll be keeping control of our qualification process and make sure things go the way we plan them right the way through."
"We want some solid results, and get some good points. From how I`ve performed in recent races, I know I`m in good shape and coming into top form, which bodes well," the 10-times world champion said.
"But I want to keep that top form for the world championships."
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Hoy`s victories in the keirin, team and individual sprint made him the first Briton to clinch three gold medals in a single Games since Henry Taylor 100 years before. He also won the kilometre event at the 2004 Athens Games before it was scratched from the Olympic schedule.
But Hoy said the approach to the London Games was going to be different.
"This time, we want to do well early on, partly so we don`t travel quite as much to World Cup events in 2011 and risk getting tired later in the Olympic build-up."
Another possible change from Beijing is that Hoy is testing out as the second rider of the team sprint trio, not the third.
For the Europeans, fellow Olympic gold medallist Jason Kenny has shifted to the first-man slot, replacing the retired Jamie Staff, whilst Hoy`s number three position is covered by newcomer Matt Crampton.
"The order is a work in progress and we`re not really sure of the final format or line-up yet, but there are other strategies possible and we`ve covered it a fair bit in training," said Hoy.
"But finally the aim will be to have a line-up that`s technically as sharp as possible for London."
The European track championships run from Nov. 5-7.